'When the client or prospect starts to talk, stop talking -- and listen'
Q: Describe your company.
A: We are a growing, nationally recognized insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm providing expertise in employee benefits, property and casualty, corporate retirement planning, mergers and acquisitions, technology services and human resources consulting to a national client base that includes manufacturing, energy and technology companies. We possess differentiated, value-added solutions for a variety of business risk challenges, including Affordable Care Act compliance, directors and officers liability and employee assistance programs.
In addition to our Deer Park headquarters, we have offices in Chicago (downtown), Dallas and Oklahoma City, with the Chicago and Oklahoma City locations newly opened this year. Our global network offers our clients access to brokerage expertise in 130 countries across the world.
We are a progressive firm devoted to serving the client, not just the account. Our founder and CEO, Walter R Fawcett III, put it best: "Our passion is helping others to succeed."
Q: Do you plan to hire additional staff or make significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: Absolutely. We will continue to staff to meet our aggressive organic growth goals, and with that goes a significant investment in technology and services that suits the needs of clients.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: Ensuring we secure top-notch talent to match the aggressive growth expectations of the firm and to exceed the experience our clients have come to expect.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: Consolidation is very hot right now, and the outcome is a commodization of our business.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie president, what would it be?
A: It's still about your people. Make sure you keep your talent. And if you can't, make sure you find comparable talent as fast as possible.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: When the client or prospect starts to talk, stop talking -- and listen.
Q: From a business outlook, who do you look up to?
A: For me, it's about all of the individuals I know who run businesses. Everybody has a different angle that they take to make their businesses a success, and those are the people from whom I gather ideas, feedback and inspiration.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: Last year, we were a Top 50 Large-Group Employee Benefit Brokerage as ranked by Employee Benefit Adviser magazine, a leading industry publication. ... We can give clients market-leading expertise along with the attention and service they may not get with a bigger firm.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: Spend time with family, travel and golf.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: "Creating Competitive Advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors," by Jaynie L. Smith and William G. Flanagan.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: Unfinished business.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: I was an insurance wholesaler for a firm recently recognized as one of Forbes' "100 Most Trustworthy Companies."
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: A professional golf event, and for this reason: golf is a sport necessitating players to have the highest integrity as a fundamental virtue of the game.
Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?
A: Last year, I challenged our Plexus associates to raise money for a philanthropic cause, and I agreed to take a whipped cream pie to the face if they reached our company goal. Whipped cream is still quite tasty on its own.
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.
A: I'm not on Twitter. But if Twitter existed for centuries previous, I would have liked to have read what George Washington and Albert Einstein observed about their life and times.
-- Kim Mikus
President and Chief Operating OfficerThe Plexus Groupe LLC
21805 Field Parkway, Suite 300, Deer Park, Illinois, 60010
Industry: Insurance brokerage / risk management consulting.
Number of employees: 108.
Family information: Married 35 years, with three children and two grandchildren