Irvin Saltzman had a year remaining in his undergraduate studies at Temple University when his education was interrupted for four years by World War II. Upon his return from serving in the North Pacific, Mr. Saltzman finished his bachelor’s degree and went on to pursue a master’s in economics. While in graduate school, Mr. Saltzman studied for and passed the Pennsylvania insurance broker exam and received his license. He applied to become an agent for the Insurance Company of North America, an insurance company in Philadelphia known to have the finest agent-training school of any company in the United States.
After a day in the company’s agent-training classes, Mr. Saltzman recalls the manager telling him, “You know more about the insurance business than our people do.” He was offered a job as an instructor; however, he chose to not accept and instead go out on his own in the agency business. Mr. Saltzman went on to found the Delaware Valley Underwriting Agency. Shortly after founding the company, Mr. Saltzman ran into a Temple graduate who was a CPA looking for help for his client: “I have an account that’s having difficulty receiving insurance; can you help them?” From this encounter came one of Mr. Saltzman’s first policies — a traveling thrill show called “Joey Chitwood’s Auto Daredevils.” The account brought him national and international recognition and helped him develop a reputation of being able to successfully place coverage for hard-to-insure customers. Later, in 1976, Mr. Saltzman founded the Penn-America Insurance Company. Penn-America offered specialty property and casualty insurance designed for small businesses, a market that was under-served at the time. After starting the company with a shared secretary, Mr. Saltzman retired as chairman with close to 400 employees when the company merged with Global Indemnity Group, Inc. This knack for seeing opportunities where others see obstacles has been a central factor in Mr. Saltzman’s success. “The best career advice I could give anyone is to keep an open mind,” he said. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and above all, enjoy the career that you choose.”
Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Science ’47, Fox School of Business
Current Title & Company
Independent Investment Management Professional
Temple University Awards & Affiliations
- Former Dean’s Council, Fox School of Business
- Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership, 1998
- Varsity Letter, Wrestling, 1942
What I wanted to be when I was 20 years old
At 20, I was in the military; I wanted to stay alive, and see the end of the war.
Best piece of advice anyone ever gave me
You have to establish a reputation of dealing fairly and honest and as such in making a statement, make sure that you are correct, and then live with what you said. In other words, honesty is still the best policy, and ultimately it rewards you.