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Among the key values at Dayton, Ohio-based McGohan Brabender Inc., the top-ranked small agent/broker in this year's Business Insurance Best Places to Work in Insurance, is family.

“It starts with our homes,” said P. Scott McGohan, McGohan Brabender's CEO, explaining that the company's sense of family encompasses employees' homes, their work and their community.

In business for nearly 40 years, McGohan Brabender provides group insurance and employee benefits services such as brokerage, consulting, communication, enrollment, advocacy, compliance, actuarial, financial and Medicare services to employers of all sizes. The company also provides educational health care services to the communities it serves.

“(Employees) know at the end of the day that we care about them a whole lot more than a revenue metric or a performance metric,” said Mr. McGohan. “And, at the end of the day, we like to have fun. You're only here once.”

“We win these awards because of our culture, and culture can never be about profitability,” Mr. McGohan said. That sort of culture can't exist only when times are good, he said. “It's got to be all the time, even when things are tough.”


2

ASSURANCE AGENCY LTD.
SCHAUMBURG, ILL.
EMPLOYEES: 201

Assurance creates personalized relationships with clients that allow it to create plans to reduce clients' exposures and make them better companies. Assurance's services include business and personal insurance, employee and executive benefits programs, surety bond placement, safety consulting, claims advocacy and retirement advisory services.

What makes the company a great place to work? “We place intense emphasis on caring for employees and making "work' a place people enjoy spending their time. Employees are appreciated every day for their intelligence and effort. We continuously seek new and creative ways to show how much we care. This is because Assurance understands (that) the best way to create real value for clients is to create real opportunities for employees.”


3

MCGRAW WENTWORTH
TROY, MICH.
EMPLOYEES: 68

McGraw Wentworth serves the group benefit needs of midsize Michigan-based organizations. Core competencies include individually tailored cost reduction strategies, bench-marking, utilization analysis, financial analysis, health and productivity management programs, regulatory compliance consulting, employee communication, voluntary group benefits design and implementation, billing and claim problem solving.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Employees consistently express that they value our culture: a supportive environment which promotes teamwork, fairness and professionalism; our service mentality; the challenging and quality work; our thorough recruiting process; the ability to work independently; being empowered to pursue new ideas; flexible hours; and a commitment to wellness.”


4

SEUBERT & ASSOCIATES INC.
PITTSBURGH
EMPLOYEES: 78

Seubert & Associates Inc. is a full-service insurance agency offering products and services including commercial, trucking, health care practices, group benefits, life, personal lines and surety bonding. Seubert & Associates also specializes in alternative risk solutions, captive services and claims management.

What makes the company a great place to work? “It is impossible to address the extraordinary benefits of working for Seubert without acknowledging the opportunities provided by its president, Brian Long. His investment in his people is best described in his own words: "You should work harder on improving yourself than on your job and excellence in your job will follow.'”


5

DUBRASKI & ASSOCIATES L.L.C.
SAN DIEGO
EMPLOYEES: 25

Dubraski & Associates is a privately held, independent insurance brokerage and consulting company specializing in solutions for the health care industry including professional liability, property/casualty, executive liability, employee benefits, managed care stop-loss, health maintenance organization reinsurance, provider excess, portfolio excess, other stop-loss insurance programs and equipment maintenance management programs.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Dubraski & Associates is a great place to work because of our team members. Bob Dubraski hand-picked each and every one of us. In doing so, he sought individuals whose values and work ethics mirror his own. He started a company and ended up building a family. Our favorite greeting to each and every new team member is, "Welcome to the last job of your life.'”


6

ROSS & YERGER INSURANCE INC.
JACKSON, MISS.
EMPLOYEES: 86

Ross & Yerger is a full-lines agency with offices in Jackson and Tupelo, Miss., and in Baton Rouge, La. offering employee benefits, commercial property/casualty, personal lines, financial institution specialty and life insurance; and risk management consulting.

What makes the company a great place to work? “We give employees off one Friday per month during the summer months to enjoy family and to take a long weekend. When monthly goals are met, the office celebrates with lunch for everyone or sometimes closing down a couple of hours early one day or maybe a massage for anyone who'd like one....All employees are given 30 minutes, two days a week during business hours, to either use the exercise room, go for a walk or run or go to a gym.”


7

PRECEPT GROUP
IRVINE, CALIF.
EMPLOYEES: 123

Precept Group has 23 years of experience in providing national health and welfare procurement, strategic plan design (fully insured and self-insured), benefit administration, health management solutions, retirement plan consulting and integrated technology solutions.

What makes the company a great place to work? “As an organization, we have an overarching principle of respect and focus on our internal and external customers. Internal customers are our fellow colleagues and we treat each other like we would a customer. These employees and their ability to deliver exceptional customer service are what make this firm a success. This is achieved through a fairly flat organizational chart, an open-door policy (from the supervisors all the way up to the CEO), and transparency around all financial and operational reporting.”


8

M3 INSURANCE SOLUTIONS INC.
MADISON, WIS.
EMPLOYEES: 174

M3 is an independent insurance agency that provides consultative services in property/casualty, workers compensation, employee benefits, life insurance, investments and retirement planning. M3 employs professionals in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau and Eau Claire, Wis., and Denver.

What makes the company a great place to work? “At M3 it's our open leadership that sets us apart. Our employees love that our executive team is approachable and takes time to hear their opinions....Employees are given the freedom to run with their position and make it what it needs to be to help us succeed. We also have fun. Sometimes it may just be by providing a jeans day, buying ice cream or it could be Office Olympics, volunteering for the United Way or a softball event.”


9

ASSOCIATED AGENCIES INC.
ROLLING MEADOWS, ILL.
EMPLOYEES: 65

Associated Agencies is a midsize, privately owned, full-service insurance brokerage firm. For nearly 120 years, the agency has assisted individuals and businesses with their property/casualty, employee benefits and individual benefits needs.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Employees love Associated Agencies because AAI encourages a balance between all aspects of life: work, family and community....While AAI expects employees to work hard at work, we promote the concept that family and community are equally if not more important. AAI promotes this philosophy in many ways: a generous benefit package that includes disability coverage and flexible work schedules, seven-hour workdays and half-day Fridays during summer.”


10

SILVERSTONE GROUP
OMAHA, NEB.
EMPLOYEES: 185

SilverStone Group is a financial services and resource management firm that provides actuarial consulting, risk management consulting, property/casualty insurance, loss/safety control, business interruption planning, employee benefit consulting, executive benefit plan design, administration and communication services, and human capital consulting.

What makes the company a great place to work? “SilverStone provides an environment designed to empower employees while holding them accountable for excellence. This combination energizes employees and this energy is evident in our work with clients. The work environment provides a sense of autonomy and entrepreneurialism, creating a sense of engagement. SilverStone promotes employee wellness and many volunteer activities, bringing employees together, providing excellent opportunities to develop camaraderie.”


11

CAPSTONE BROKERAGE INC.
LAS VEGAS
EMPLOYEES: 26

Capstone Brokerage Inc. is a risk management, insurance and employee benefits brokerage specializing in all types of commercial and personal insurance.

What makes the company a great place to work? “We work together as a team to develop empowered leaders through personal and professional growth and continuous learning. We continue to innovate and show up each day to be better than the day before. We are not in competition with our competitors; we are in competition with ourselves to continuously improve in all aspects of what we do and how we do it. Capstone encourages and rewards innovation, dedication, accountability and risk-taking.”


12

PROPEL INSURANCE
TACOMA, WASH.
EMPLOYEES: 227

Propel Insurance is the Northwest's largest private insurance agency, offering experts in risk analysis and specialists in fields such as construction, banking, senior living, education, transportation and employee benefits.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Our management team strives to provide employees with the education and tools to perform their jobs efficiently, further their careers and have some fun at the same time. The company plans a number of employee events throughout the year including family-oriented events. Propel participates in community events and many charity organizations. Employees are recognized for the contributions and encouraged to take their earned vacations and enjoy their time away.”

13

PLEXUS GROUPE L.L.C.
DEER PARK, ILL.
EMPLOYEES: 66

Plexus Groupe is an independent, privately owned national insurance brokerage firm with offices in Chicago and Dallas. The company provides risk management consulting, insurance brokerage and value-added services to a wide range of commercial enterprises including multinational corporations.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Many of our employees have come to us after working for larger brokerage firms. When they join Plexus, they quickly realize how refreshing it is to work for Plexus. Most employees see the impact of their efforts instantly....Employees are able to collaborate with different departments and are generally exposed to more of the process than before. They feel they have control. They also see the value we place on work/life balance. Most employees maintain reasonable work hours and have lots of flexibility.”


14

SCIROCCO GROUP
HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J.
EMPLOYEES: 114

In operation for more than 60 years, Scirocco Group shares knowledge and focused expertise in such areas of insurance as construction, real estate, manufacturing, retail/wholesale distribution, public entities, transportation and full-service risk analysis and management.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Our organization is engaged from the top down. Our owners and management team are as active in the day-to-day victories, issues and disappointments as the staff; this makes the environment feel like a team and, most importantly, function as a team. Teamwork and other catch phrases make great-looking plaques, but engagement in the process at all levels really makes for success. Our generous benefit platform and other "soft values' add to the appreciation of the company.”


15

THE REDWOODS GROUP
MORRISVILLE, N.C.
EMPLOYEES: 84

Redwoods is a nationwide provider of risk management services, property/casualty insurance and claims management to YMCAs and Jewish community centers and nonprofit resident camps. The company's business and social mission is to protect and improve the quality of life in the communities that Redwoods serves.

What makes the company a great place to work? “We place emphasis on good work/family life balance. We prefer that employees keep overtime to a minimum. We encourage employees to volunteer on company time so they can devote weeknights and weekends to their families. We rally around employees when there's a cancer diagnosis, family illness or death. Employees feel we have excellent benefits, including unlimited sick leave, free medical and dental coverage for lower-paid employees, and a scholarship program for employees' children.”


16

POMS & ASSOCIATES INSURANCE BROKERS INC.
WOODLAND HILLS, CALIF.
EMPLOYEES: 106

Poms is a full-service brokerage offering commercial insurance, employee benefits, personal lines, risk control and risk management consulting services to public and private entities. The company risk management consulting and property/casualty insurance products including workers compensation, professional liability and executive protection coverage.

What makes the company a great place to work? “We do our best to always maintain a family atmosphere and sense of camaraderie. We try to foster a spirit of entrepreneurialism so that people feel that this is their company, and that they have a stake in its success. Our employees appreciate the great working conditions that we have. We have a beautiful office, top-of-the-line equipment and resources that make our jobs easier.”


17

THE ADDIS GROUP L.L.C.
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA.
EMPLOYEES: 59

At Addis Group, “risk architects” develop risk management and safety-related strategies for growth-oriented middle-market companies, including a proprietary diagnostic risk management audit process focused on improving clients' risk profiles.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Each one of us spends most of our precious moments at the Addis Group with our team. Our daily lives in insurance and risk management rarely allow us to stretch our legs and lend a hand. It is our passion and pride that pushes us daily to go above and beyond the expectations of our clients. We are a unique group of caring individuals, from all walks of life, united together to provide the very best for our clients and each other.”


18

KAPNICK INSURANCE GROUP
SOUTHFIELD, MICH.
EMPLOYEES: 116

Kapnick Insurance Group offers a full spectrum of insurance and related value-added services to a diverse client base. The company's core purpose is to simplify the insurance process, meeting client needs and interests while lowering their overall total cost of risk.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Our employees love our family-flexible work culture, our employee benefits and our support of the local communities that we live and work in. Our offices are clean and inviting and the technology we have to do our jobs is superior.”


19

ARMFIELD, HARRISON & THOMAS INC.
LEESBURG, VA.
EMPLOYEES: 123

AH&T is an insurance brokerage, risk management consulting, employee benefits, surety bond and retirement planning services organization dedicated to providing solutions globally for business and individuals. AH&T is employee-owned with offices in Leesburg, Va., and Seattle.

What makes the company a great place to work? “AH&T's mission statement: "It is the mission of AH&T to foster a partnership with our clients. To accomplish this, we engage professionals empowered to use their creativity and talents, individually and as a team, to provide heroic service,' reflects our company's culture both externally and internally....Our organization is very flat and new procedures can be implemented quickly when needed. Also, we provide employees with detailed information on our performance through our (employee stock ownership plan) communications and regular sales meetings. Finally, senior managements' doors are always open.”


20

EQUITY RISK PARTNERS INC.
SAN FRANCISCO
EMPLOYEES: 41

Equity Risk Partners is a full-service insurance brokerage and risk management consulting firm focused exclusively on the needs of the private equity industry and its portfolio companies. The company provides due diligence, insurance solutions and product and financing alternatives that improve the efficiency, structure and returns on private equity transactions.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Through flexible hours and a family-friendly environment, the company encourages employees to attain a solid work/life balance. They also enjoy the social interaction that the company encourages through sponsored Friday lunches, company outings and get-togethers. Upper management believes in making staff feel as if they are part of the long-term business plan, a practice which has helped empower and retain employees because they become vested emotionally and intellectually.”


21

THE INSURANCE EXCHANGE INC.
ROCKVILLE, MD.
EMPLOYEES: 40

The Insurance Exchange provides comprehensive property/casualty business insurance, personal insurance, a full range of employee benefits and financial services including 401(k), pension and profit-sharing plans, deferred compensation and investment consulting.

What makes the company a great place to work? “Flexible schedules including telecommuting; a clean, professional physical office; professional training and development is encouraged and paid; individual performance is recognized and appreciated; an excellent reputation in the industry and the community; extensive benefits offerings with generous employer contributions; a profit-sharing plan; the corporate culture and agency teamwork; and a spirit of camaraderie.”