History and Decision Makers

 

HISTORY OF GARBER ATLAS FRIES & ASSOCIATES, INC.

 

Garber Atlas Fries & Associates, Inc. (GAF) is an independent insurance agency originally founded in 1968 by Murray Garber and A. Arthur Strull.  Mr. Strull retired within a brief period of time and Murray Garber then took the reins, guiding the Agency through the ensuing years, firmly rooting its philosophy and guaranteeing its permanence through adherence to the highest standards of excellence.

Steven Garber joined the firm in 1983, contributing his knowledge and expertise and providing the essential ingredients of growth and perpetuation. Steven has since received the industry’s “Certified Insurance Counselor” (CIC) designation and currently serves as President of GAF.  He is involved in the sales and service of the agency’s customers and continues to bring a creative approach to our clients.  Steven, the father of four children, currently resides in New York City.

 In 1991, Atlas Brokerage, a company founded by David Hammerman in 1952, joined forces with the Garbers, and significantly expanded the agency. David Hammerman, as Vice President of GAF brings to the Company his many years of experience in the industry, as well as specialties in real estate, finance, and all phases of insurance.

In 1997, Stuart Fries and Justin Fries joined the Garbers and formed Garber Atlas Fries & Associates, Inc., the entity that exists today. This father and son team brought with them a well-respected and established agency. Stuart Fries has been in the business over 50 years and has served in many capacities, including his current appointment by the New York Superintendent of Insurance and Department of Financial Services, as a “Public Member” of the NY Auto Insurance Plan Governing Committee.  Stuart is known in the industry as a “wealth of insurance knowledge” and continues to enjoy a stellar reputation amongst our clients, insurance carriers, and the general insurance marketplace.  Stuart has also achieved the “Certified Insurance Counselor” (CIC) designation. Stuart is a life long resident of Manhattan Beach Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife Eleanor.  Stuart is an avid fisherman and boatsmen and is deeply involved in a plethora of community associations.

Justin Fries, a graduate of Cornell University, has been in the business since 1988 and is now the third generation of Fries’ to continue the insurance tradition.  Justin currently serves as the “Chief Operating Officer” of GAF and is responsible for managing the day to day operations of the Agency.  Like his father, Justin continues to volunteer his time and has served on the Board of Directors of many of the insurance trade groups.  He is a past president of the Independent Insurance Agents Association, a current director of the Council of Insurance Brokers of Greater NY, and a director of the Professional Insurance Agents Association of NY. Justin also serves on several insurance carrier “producer councils” as a liaison between clients, agents, and the insurance company.  In addition, Justin has achieved the “Certified Insurance Counselor” (CIC) designation, along with the prestigious “Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter” (CPCU) designation, and the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) designation.  Justin currently lives in Roslyn NY with his wife, son, and identical twin daughters. 

Michael Levine, V.P., was President of Sugarman-Levine Agencies, Inc., a full service agency before joining the “Garber Atlas Fries Team” in 2005. Michael, a graduate of Northeastern University had been in the insurance business since 1986 and also followed as “Second Generation” to a long family tradition in the insurance industry.   Unfortunately, in December of 2013, Michael passed away at age 50 after a hard fought battle with a form of cancer.  GAF misses him each and every day and continues to keep his legacy alive.

In late 2009, the Agency had an opportunity to expand again.  On November 1, 2009, GAF purchased a seasoned agency known as Royal Associates Inc., owned by Arthur Morris, Mel Friedman, and Michael Mahoney.  Located in Manhattan, Royal presented an opportunity for GAF to expand its presence into the NYC market.  A satellite office located on Broadway, in the heart of Times Square, was opened and the Royal operation was integrated into the Agency.  The GAF Management team and staff have successfully assimilated the Royal client base into our own, and continue to maintain the client relationships.

In April 2016, GAF again was presented with an opportunity to expand our reach in New York City.  All Risk Brokerage, a well-established and well-known agency led by Harvey Goldfarb aligned themselves with GAF.  Garber Atlas Fries entered into an agency management and servicing agreement with All Risk, handling all of the insurance clients and servicing on behalf of All Risk.  Furthermore, the key employees of All Risk joined the GAF team, as we welcomed Nydia Villalba, and Ben Levovitz onto our staff.  In addition, Ervin Roth and Dina Khodorkovsky also joined our GAF family and continue to help us maintain our New York City business.

In November 2016, GAF proudly welcomed in yet another “Father and Son” dynamic duo.  Alan Plafker,CIC, and Michael Plafker,CIC became Vice Presidents of GAF bringing with them their third generation of insurance clients.  Alan Plafker has been active in the Insurance business for nearly 40 years and has served the industry in many capacities, most recently as President of the NY Professional Insurance Agents Association (PIANY), and has served on many other insurance industry Board of Directors and Agent Councils.  He started his career with his father, Phillip Plafker at Industrial Brokerage Corp. after graduating Adelphi University, and continued his professional education achieving the “Certified Insurance Counselor” (CIC) designation, and the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) designation.  He is well respected in the industry and has joined the executive team as Vice President, bringing valuable carrier and client relationships to the GAF organization.

Michael Plafker is the third generation in the family business, having had the benefit of working with his father, and grandfather.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors at the NY Professional Insurance Agents Association (PIANY) as well as on the Executive Board of the Council of Insurance Brokers of Greater NY (CIBGNY).  In Addition, he is an active past President of the NY Young Insurance Professionals Association (YIP).   Michael is committed to professional development and has achieved the “Certified Insurance Counselor” (CIC) designation, and the Certified Professional Insurance Agent (CPIA) designation.   He brings his successful young spirit and joined the executive team as Vice President.  His business networking accomplishments and client relationships will contribute to the future success and growth of the GAF organization. 

Garber Atlas Fries and Associates Inc, remains as a highly respected independent insurance agency in the insurance community and enjoys an impeccable reputation for fine service, superior talent and unimpeachable integrity.