At 53, David Fenimore is living the dream. Since his 20s, he’s wanted to write software and help people. After having worked for Insurance Technologies for the past 18 years, he was named president, effective May 1. Other than the company’s founder and majority owner Larry Wiedeman, Fenimore has the longest tenure. He began working for the company in his basement, and now Insurance Technologies has 210 employees and $30 million in annual sales.
What does Insurance Technologies do?
It writes software for the insurance industry. We handle what we call the “point of sale.” It’s software that helps agents make the sale out in the field. We have two applications; one is ForeSight illustration insurance. Illustration insurance software means the ability to take the complex actuarial calculations and determine, based on what somebody’s willing to pay, how much insurance they can get. In very complex products, like whole life, universal life or variable universal life, these are incredibly complex actuarial calculations. So we write those actuarial calculations to help the insurance agent tell you how much the insurance will cost you, based on morbidity, mortality, demographics and more.
The second is FireLight. That product is also point of sale, and it helps the people in the field capture all that information from the proposed insured, to help them underwrite and eventually give the client an insurance policy.
How does that work, and who are your clients?
They can take our system on their laptop or log in on the Internet so they can submit it electronically to the next system rather than write it all out. In some states, we’re looking at 50 pages of filling out information just to get one single insurance policy. It can be quite painful. We try to help them with that.
Our true clients are the insurance companies that provide the software to the agents. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to Hong Kong, China, South Korea, India, Chile, Mexico, Canada, England for the company, selling and implementing the product.
How did your career start?
My career started in Pueblo working for CF&I Steel. After that, I went to work for the Resolution Trust Company and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. They were cleaning up all the mess with the savings and loan debacle that was in the early ’90s. Shortly after that, I transferred over to the FDIC in a more permanent role in Denver. I was a lead developer. We wrote a system so people could build their portfolio of assets, package them and try to sell them out in the field. This is all software systems we were writing at the time. Nobody had written anything that would help the field support that, so we wrote systems to help develop that.
In 1994 I was hired to work at MCI. I worked the general ledger system. Because of my previous experience writing software for personal computers, they took me and a team of people and we went out and built a system with personal computer applications. We built one of the first PC-built systems in the country that was used nationally. After that, because of the relationships I had at MCI, I was provided the opportunity to be the third employee here.
Describe that transition.
I took a huge leap of faith. The founder had hired two other people, but none of them at the time were writing what we would call the actuarial calculations for the system. I was his first programmer to work on that. We started out doing … I hate to say consulting work, but we were hired guns. People hired us to work on other people’s systems. We didn’t have our own system at the time. After a couple of years we decided it was time to start building our own software. We were truly one of those “founded in a garage” businesses. I worked in the basement of my home with my own computer that I had bought. I took a huge leap of faith because we were a month away from having our third child and we had no insurance with the company. We were about as bare bones as bare bones can be.
What intrigued you enough to take that leap of faith?
I thought someday I would be a VP of a big software company. I had a mentor early on that had told me that based on my personality, she said I was meant to be a hero and I’ve got to go work for a small company because I need to matter and I need to feel like I’m making a contribution. I’ll never forget when Larry [Wiedeman, the owner] called me. I thought, “This is all coming true.” I want to matter and I want to feel like I’m contributing.
What intrigues you most about working here?
Oh, where do I begin? I love the fact that all of us have created this. We didn’t walk into a situation where we just got hired to work here. We’ve all created this. This is our creation, and we’re still creating. We started this little tiny company in Colorado Springs and we are the world leader in what we do. Every major insurance company hires us for what we do, and we have been taken around the world by these companies. Some days you’ve just got to pinch yourself to see if the dream really happened. It’s truly living the dream.