Founder, Austin Benefits Group
Meeting Dean Austin for the first time, two things become immediately apparent. The 48-year-old Birmingham resident is fiercely committed to his family and intensely loyal to his business — and he seems to juggle both with ease and confidence.
The father of four daughters (ages 14, 12, 10 and 9), Dean and his wife, Kathy, keep busy with six schedules that never seem to slow down. But they make it all work.
Dean spent 11 years in the insurance industry prior to launching Austin Benefits Group. His role on the insurance carrier side of the business provided an opportunity to witness a market he felt was underserved. In 2000, Austin Benefits Group opened its doors.
“My goal was to provide unique ideas and solutions to help people manage their benefit packages,” says Dean. “I saw an opportunity to improve the way people purchased benefits and to help them become better consumers.”
Despite the ups and downs of many businesses through a difficult economy, Austin Benefits Group has continued to thrive, providing custom employee benefit packages, health insurance, Obamacare compliance and corporate wellness programs.
Industry changes: There has been nothing but change in the industry. The complexity of managing employee benefits and the impact of Obamacare have dramatically altered the way companies do business when it comes to benefits. There are new regulations, more complex requirements, rapidly increasing costs and, ultimately, a lot of confusion. Business owners and leaders simply do not have the time to manage and stay informed about the changes, so that’s where we come in. Our job is to educate and guide our clients, or as we say, ‘help them unravel the mess.’
Professionally speaking: Employee benefits will only get more and more complicated. The insurance industry as we know it has changed forever. I want to provide solid solutions to difficult problems. I enjoy watching my clients achieve their maximum potential.
Proud career accomplishment: My greatest career accomplishment has been the founding of Austin Benefits Group. I’m also proud of my team and how they have grown. The company has been voted one of Metro Detroit’s “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work for” three years in a row. It’s the feedback from our employees that helps us win this every year, so I’m very proud. It means that what we’re doing here every day is having an impact, not just on our clients, but also on our staff and our community.
Passion for: When I get free time, I want to spend it with my family. That’s what I enjoy the most. Having four daughters is so much fun. I also love to work out — swim, run, bike. I did an Ironman Triathlon this year.
Life in Birmingham: Birmingham is all about community and neighborhoods. We couldn’t have found a better place for our kids to grow up. There are sidewalks, neighborhoods, great places for shopping and dining. We love it here.
Favorite place to hang out: I really don’t have one favorite place. I love to go into downtown Birmingham with my family, maybe see a movie and have dinner. And there’s always Stroh’s Ice Cream. Who doesn’t like that?
My perfect day: My perfect day would start out with an early morning workout, see that my kids get to school on time (and that I get a big hug from each of them), and then go to the office to do what I do. And, like every day, it would include dinner with my wife and daughters. This is our family time together. I don’t want to miss my kids growing up — not for anything.
What most people don’t know about me: I am a Formula One buff. I love auto racing and the Woodward Dream Cruise. I’m not so much into electric cars. I’m a petrol guy. I love the roar of the engine. NS
— Interviewed by Jane Gleeson