H.W. Kaufman Subsidiary Acquires Historic Building in Downtown Detroit


Burns & Wilcox announced the purchase of 119 State St. in the historic Capitol Park neighborhood of Detroit. // Photo courtesy of Hannah-Neumann / Smith

Burns & Wilcox, a subsidiary of the global insurance network HW Kaufman Group, has announced the purchase of 119 State St. in the historic Capitol Park neighborhood behind the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit. The red brick structure will serve as the satellite location for Burns & Wilcox’s headquarters in Farmington Hills.

The six-story, 40,000-square-foot building was built in 1887 for Brown Brothers Cigar Manufacturers. At the time, Detroit had a resilient cigar market, growing much of the tobacco on the north shore of Lake Erie in Leamington, Ontario, Canada.

The building has been traded over the years and was in good condition prior to being acquired by Lear Corp. empty in 2015. It served as an innovation hub for the automotive supplier who commissioned Neumann / Smith Architecture in Detroit and Southfield to restore the facade to close to the original Victorian Romanesque design.

Burns & Wilcox, Kaufman’s flagship company, is North America’s premier insurance wholesale broker and underwriting manager.

“Our company was founded in Detroit more than 50 years ago. We were looking for a way to get back to our roots with a downtown location, ”said Alan Jay Kaufman, chairman, president and CEO of HW Kaufman Group. “The Kaufman network has more than 60 locations worldwide and it is very important for us to have a location in Detroit again.”

The deal was facilitated by the Kaufman Real Estate management team working with Peter Jankowski, Richard Deptula, David Friedman, Jared Friedman and Jordan Friedman of Friedman Real Estate in Farmington Hills. The terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The HW Kaufman Group has more than 60 locations in North America and the UK and employs more than 2,000 people. Kaufman Real Estate is targeting Class A office properties for its international real estate portfolio. The building at 119 State St. will promote Burns & Wilcox’s commitment to the city.

“This satellite location reflects the pride we feel as an organization based in Metro Detroit,” said Danny Kaufman, executive vice president of the HW Kaufman Group and COO of Burns & Wilcox. “We are expanding our presence through our partnerships in Detroit and look forward to having this location as a destination for great talent, our global insurance business, and customers and partners.”

For more information on the Detroit cigar industry, including the Brown Brothers cigar makers, visit Detroit: Engine of America at


Dusty Kennedy