As Senior Vice President of The Insurance Center in Onalaska, WI, Jeff directs his team forward to achieve the agency’s purpose of fighting for the highest possible good of their clients, co-workers, and community. He focuses on the overall operations and business development for the life, health, and commercial benefits side of the business.

What is your background and how did you get into this line of work?
During college, I worked the summers for a local agency selling Medicare and final expense. After graduation, I ended up starting a new office for an agency in Colorado and worked the entire state, mainly focusing on life insurance and Medicare. I then moved back to Wisconsin and started my own agency for several years before being recruited by Federated Insurance. Worked for Federated for eight years as a sales leader in Minneapolis and Indianapolis before moving back to my hometown and partnering with The Insurance Center, Inc. (TIC) and headed up their L&H operation. Now I am a 25% partner and lead business development for the organization.

What are your leadership principles?
Serve others over all else. If you lead with the mind of being a servant, others will follow. Fight for the highest possible good of those you serve and you will build trust and influence. “Belongships Values” include: Be Ethical, Be Authentic, Be Intentional, Be Empowered, and Be Dynamic.

Why are you passionate about BAN? What value has it brought you/your business?
Collaboration with high-quality people is powerful. The main value it has brought our business is the “phone-a-friend” mentality. We don’t know everything but the answer is usually there. BAN helps with this as great members have great ideas and are able to execute them successfully.

With ongoing inflation, higher interest rates, and a shaky economy, are you worried about the economy? If so, are you taking steps to prepare for a recession?
Yes, this is a concern. In benefits and workers comp especially, revenue is driven by employment. If layoffs happen, our revenue goes down. We are strengthening our position by being debt free as much as possible and looking for ways to grow organically.

Where do you see the industry headed for the balance of 2023 and in 2024?
I see a continued focus on proactive services, risk management, and other value-added solutions being the focus of driving growth and retention. I see continued rate pressure in benefits driving more to consider alternative ways to benefit employees and creating disruption in the industry. And, a strong move toward self-funding for smaller to mid-sized organizations.

What are the industry’s biggest challenges?
Being stuck in the old way of business. We need a hyper-focus on what the agency of the future will look like and how we can harness AI and other tech to achieve efficiencies. I also see Payroll/HR players continuing to come into the benefits space to achieve a one-stop shop mentality.

For the younger generation, what are one or two lessons you’ve learned that you can share with them?
I can think of a million cliches like “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” but I think one thing that is of utmost importance is to continue to focus on overall health. Focus on your mental and spiritual health as much as your physical and financial health and good things will happen. Also, swim against the norm. Think outside the box and disrupt in any way possible!

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