Our People, Your Partners

From our executives on down, our people are your partners. We become part of your team. Ask the right questions. Help make sure you’ve got the right coverage. Handle your claims expertly and expeditiously.  Service like this is the reason Vanguard maintains such strong relationships with clients – often spanning generations of ownership.

Joseph V. Sforzo, President

Joseph V. Sforzo, President

Joe is the founder of Vanguard and remains as President and CEO. As founder, Joe implanted many of the core values of the company that remain today. Creating an environment for the most talented staff, Vanguard has developed as a leading New York broker for surety and insurance for the construction and property development industries.


In 1999 Joe developed a patented web-based secure process for executing surety bonds. This system, surety2000, is used on a daily basis by virtually every major firm in the industry, including both brokerages and sureties. For more information, visit www.surety2000.com.


Joe is a guest speaker at many industry functions, including the New York City Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Association. In addition, he is a quarterly guest speaker at Columbia University’s Construction Management and Engineering Program.


Joe is a graduate of Hofstra University holding a BBA in Finance.



Robert W. O'Kane, Executive Vice President

Robert W. O’Kane, Executive Vice President

A graduate of Fordham University, Bob started his career with the Fireman’s Fund in New York City and later joined the Aetna Casualty and Surety Company. Since joining Vanguard Coverage Corp in 1986, Bob has felt strongly that a good surety agent should bring a value added to both his clients and the sureties he represents. Bob is particularly proud of the fact that in his twenty plus years as a agent he has helped many of his clients develop into some of the leading trade and general contractors in the New York area.


Bob is a past President of the New York Surety Underwriters Association and a frequent lecturer to accounting and construction organizations.



Bob Kempner, Executive Vice President

Bob Kempner joined Vanguard in 1984, just months after college graduation. He has grown from a Surety Assistant to Executive Vice President in charge of the Surety Department, wearing many hats along the way. As one of Vanguard’s leading producers, Bob’s dedication to his craft is evidenced by the growing list of clients still with Vanguard for 10+ years, many for over 20.


He is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, with a BA in Accounting.



Barry S. Manning, Senior Vice President Business Development

Barry brings the value of over thirty years of insurance expertise to our clients. Barry started his career in sales on the carrier side with the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. He then managed the sales and insurance operations for Liberty Mutual, first in Southern California and then on Long Island, NY. Joining the National Accounts Divison of Liberty in the 1990’s, Barry designed and managed the insurance programs for some of the nation’s largest corporations, including Genovese Drug Stores, The Caldor Corporation, and The International Paper Company. For the last dozen years Barry has devoted his insurance career soley to the construction industry. His creativity in designing insurance programs, his detailed analysis of policies, and his close industry relationships, has helped his construction clients to be more competitive while being protected.

Barry is a graduate of Hunter College with a degree in polictal science. He enjoyes chess, fishing and military history.



Bob Trager, Vice President Business Development

For almost three decades, Bob has been a part of practically every part of the insurance business. Starting as an underwriter for a national insurance company, Bob moved to the brokerage side, and eventually became entrenched in the construction insurance industry. Bob then moved from the servicing end to business development. In his prior position Bob utilized his 22+ years of experience to become a leader, providing innovative insurance and surety programs to the regional New York construction and environmental businesses. He joined Vanguard in the Spring of 2012.


Bob has a degree in business and accounting from Long Island University and is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), completing numerous commercial insurance and risk management courses.



Matthew J Kelly, Vice President

Immediately after college, Matt spent a decade in the surety department of a major national brokerage, which included co-managing a branch in San Francisco for three years. In his ten years, Matt has put together an impressive resume of experience, handling various leadership roles across the country. He has personally handled or has managed teams that have serviced contractors of all sizes – from the largest, to mid-market and smaller firms, in a multitude of disciplines. His relationships, expertise, energy and passion for the business bring great value for his clients.


Matt is a graduate of Loyola University with a BBA in Finance.