To celebrate its landmark year, Higginbotham is turning the spotlight back on the keys to its success: culture and community.
“Our 75th is all about celebrating with our people and giving back to the communities that have been so generous to us across our footprint, which today spans 15 states and 87 offices,” said Higginbotham CEO Rusty Reid.
Today, Higginbotham is one of the largest independent insurance brokerages in the United States, as well as the largest in Texas by revenue. It was nominated to the list of Best Employers in the Insurance Sector in America in 2022.
Second day teams
Once family-owned, the company is now proudly owned by more than 2,400 employees, the majority of whom are direct shareholders. The employee ownership model aims to reward and motivate Higginbotham’s workforce, according to Reid.
“We started the employee ownership journey back in 1989, and we’re still very much where we are today,” Reed said. “We set up this organization for the benefit of our shareholders, who also happen to be our employees.
“It has allowed us to not only retain great people but also attract great talent to serve our clients.”
Reed joined Higginbotham in 1986 from American General Fire and Casualty Company and has since led the brokerage through decades of change and growth. Under his leadership, the brokerage established a financial services division to provide employee benefits.
But according to the CEO, what really sets Higginbotham apart in today’s market are its ‘second day’ services, which aim to support clients with risk and claims management, benefits plan services and administration.
“The idea is that on day one, our mission is to provide the customer with the best coverage, cost and cash flow options,” Reed said.
Then we leverage risk management, compliance, communications, contract review, technology…all things that go beyond policy delivery. We have found that this solution has improved our customer retention rate and greatly enhanced our ability to reach customers.”
Celebrating 75 years of growing up and beyond
In 2007, Higginbotham launched an aggressive merger and acquisition strategy, branching out in Texas and eventually across the United States.
In the past year, the company has continued this expansion as it entered new countries and expanded its presence in others.
According to Reed, growth won’t slow down anytime soon, and will continue to be supported by Higginbotham’s values.
“We launched what we called the Best in Texas strategy to align with our mission and vision, which is to be the best place for employees to work, best customer advocate, best carrier partner, and best community partner,” Reed said.
“We’re not just out to buy profits for the sake of purchase proceeds, we’re really looking to find great partners. Ninety-eight percent of our partners are a lot bigger today than they were when they joined us. To me, that’s kind of ticking that box that it works.”
At the same time, Higginbotham is firmly focused on “legacy organic growth,” as the CEO puts it, which includes retaining and finding new customers by offering them value.
“We’ve always been great at organic growth as an organization. But taking advantage of our ‘day two’ platform was really important to us,” Reid continued.
giving back to their communities
Amidst tremendous success in the insurance industry, Higginbotham remains firmly anchored in its communities through the Higginbotham Community Trust.
“We have been fortunate as an organization that our growth has not stopped since 1989,” Reed said. “A byproduct of this success is the ability to give back to our communities.”
The Higginbotham Community Fund was established in 2011 to provide financial support to non-profit organizations in locations where the brokerage operates. Employees contribute funds and can request grants to organizations they want to support in their local communities.
The fund has raised more than $5.2 million in contributions and pledges, and has distributed grants to more than 1,600 nonprofits.
For Reid, Higginbotham’s core values of being family to its employees and generous to its communities are the secret to its longevity and continued growth.
“Going forward, we will continue to think innovatively about how we can be the absolute best place for our people to work, the absolute best advocate for our customers, and the absolute best partner for our carriers,” he said.
What are your thoughts on Higginbotham’s landmark year? Leave them in the comments below.