Son is picked to lead insurer

After 48 years, Brown & Brown's CEO will step down in 2009.

Published January 31, 2007

J. Hyatt Brown, who through a series of mergers put together the largest independent insurance brokerage in Florida, plans to retire as CEO of Brown & Brown Inc. in July 2009 and hand the reins to his son, J. Powell Brown, the company said Tuesday.

Founded in 1939 with headquarters in Daytona Beach and Tampa, Brown & Brown is the sixth-largest independent broker in the United States.

Hyatt Brown, 69, assumed control of the company in 1961, when Brown & Brown had just $61,000 in total revenue. He also served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1972 to 1980, and speaker of the House from 1978 to 1980.

In 1992, the company merged with Poe & Associates, an insurance company founded by former Tampa mayor Bill Poe Sr.

The Poe family sold all of its shares in 1996 and the company changed its name from Poe & Brown to Brown & Brown, but retained its dual headquarters.

In advance of Hyatt Brown's retirement, his son, J. Powell Brown, 39, the company's regional vice president, was elected president.

The move effectively bypasses Jim Henderson, 60, who has served as president since 2002 and has been an executive with the company since 1985.

Henderson was promoted to the newly created position of vice chairman and will continue as chief operating officer.