Higginbotham celebrates 75 years with focus on culture and community

CEO reveals the secret to the independent brokerage's longevity and growth

Higginbotham celebrates 75 years with focus on culture and community

Insurance News

By Gia Snape

In 1948, Paul C. Higginbotham opened a personal insurance brokerage with a modest ambition to serve his small community in Fort Worth, Texas.

Fast forward 75 years, and his namesake business – Higginbotham Insurance Agency – has grown to a powerhouse brokerage with offices from coast to coast.

To celebrate its milestone year, Higginbotham is putting the spotlight back on the keys to its success: culture and community.

“Our 75th is geared around celebrating with our employees 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 (pictured).

Today, Higginbotham is one largest independent insurance brokerages in the US, as well as the largest in Texas by revenue. It was nominated to Insurance Business America’s Top Insurance Employers list in 2022.

The “Day Two” difference

Once a family-owned enterprise, the organization is now proudly owned by its more than 2,400 employees, a majority of whom are direct shareholders. The employee ownership model aims to reward and incentivize Higginbotham’s workforce, according to Reid.

“We began an employee ownership journey back in 1989, and it's still very much who we are today,” said Reid. “We built this organization for the benefit of our shareholders, which coincidentally happened to be our employees.

“It's allowed us to not only retain wonderful people but also attract incredible talent to serve our clients.”

Reid joined Higginbotham in 1986 from American General Fire and Casualty Company and has since been steering the brokerage through decades of change and growth. Under his helm, the brokerage established a financial services division to offer employee benefits.

But according to the CEO, what truly sets Higginbotham apart in today’s market is its “Day Two” services, which are geared at supporting clients through risk management, claims, benefit plan services, and administration.

“The idea is that on day one, our job is to get a client the absolute best coverage, cost, and cash flow options,” Reid said.

“Then we leverage risk management, compliance, communications, contract review, technology… all the things above and beyond delivering a policy. We have found that this solution has improved our customer retention rate and significantly enhanced our ability to land customers.”

Celebrating 75 years of growth and beyond

In 2007, Higginbotham launched an aggressive merger and acquisition strategy, branching out in Texas and eventually across the United States.

Last year, the company continued that expansion as it entered new states and broadened its footprint in others.

According to Reid, growth won’t slow down any time soon, and it will continue to be powered by Higginbotham’s values.

“We launched what we called our ‘Best in Texas’ strategy to be aligned with our mission and vision, which is to be the best place for employees to work, the best client advocate, the best carrier partner, and the best community partner, and we've stayed true to that,” Reid told Insurance Business.

“We’re not out just to buy revenue for the sake of buying revenue, we really look to find great partners. Ninety-eight percent of our partners are much larger today than when they joined us. To me, that's kind of check that box that it's working.”

At the same time, Higginbotham is deeply focused on “old-fashioned organic growth,” the CEO said, which involves retaining and finding new clients by bringing them value.

“We've always been great at organic growth as an organization. But leveraging our ‘Day Two’ platform has really been significant for us,” Reid continued.

Giving back to its communities

Amidst tremendous success in the insurance industry, Higginbotham remains grounded in its communities through its Higginbotham Community Fund.

“We've been very blessed as an organization that our growth hasn't stopped since 1989. The by-product of that success is being able to give back to our communities,” said Reid.

The Higginbotham Community Fund was established in 2011 to provide financial support to non-profits in locations where the brokage does business. Employees contribute the funds and can request grants for the organizations they want to support in their local communities.

The fund has raised more than $5.2 million in contributions and pledges, and distributed grants to over 1,600 non-profits.

For Reid, Higginbotham’s core values of being family to its employees and generous to its communities is the secret to its longevity and continued growth.

“Moving forward, we’ll just continue to think innovatively about how we can be the absolutely best place for our employees to work, the absolute best advocate for our clients, the absolute best partner of our carriers,” he said.

What are your thoughts on Higginbotham’s milestone year? Leave them in the comments below.

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