Supporting the team Featured

8:01pm EDT June 30, 2011

[caption id="attachment_32569" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Richard Kahlbaugh, president and CEO, Fortegra Financial Corp."]

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It was a moment that shaped Richard Kahlbaugh’s view of both himself and his place in the world. He was on the golf team at the University of Delaware and he had encountered a tough hole that had confounded him so much that he angrily threw one of his clubs to the ground.

His coach witnessed the act and confronted Kahlbaugh to explain that the name on front of his shirt — University of Deleware — was and should be more important to him than the name on the back, which was his own name. It taught him a lesson that stuck about how when you want your team to win, your focus needs to be on positioning the entire team for success and not just looking to nurture your own fame.

It was one of the philosophies that Kahlbaugh put to use when he became COO at Life of the South Corp. in 2003, a struggling insurance product distributor that was in pretty bad shape.

Kahlbaugh went to work, eventually becoming CEO in 2007 and changing the name in 2008 to Fortegra Financial Corp. The name change was meant to reflect both fortitude and integrity in the company and reassure people that it wasn’t just a company for the southern United States.

Kahlbaugh believes strongly in focusing on talent retention by closely coaching his employees and providing them with opportunities to grow. He prefers the word “evolution” over “revolution” when it comes to making acquisitions and integrating new personnel and systems into his business.

And as his company has grown, Kahlbaugh has not lost his appreciation for his people and their value to his organization. He continues to engage them in following a strategy of committing to goals, identifying the steps to reach those goals and focusing on the process through completion.

How to reach: Fortegra Financial Corp., (866) 961-9529 or www.fortegra.com