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SAM Member Spotlight

This month’s Member Spotlight is Independent Insurance Group, also known as IIGI to some of our members.  Ricky Locke has attended SAM meetings for many years.  Recently Eric Hernandez has become active in SAM for IIGI.  You may be more familiar with his alias Mr. Bingo.  IIGI has been a loyal sponsor for SAM for several years, and I am certain a good part of our membership growth is attributed to their involvement.  Ricky answered a few questions for me so that you can learn more about Independent Insurance Group and one of its founders. 

When was Independent Insurance Group established?  1993

What work does IIGI primarily focus on?  Our focus is commercial insurance, and our specialization is trade contractors.  Approximately 75% of our business is with trade contractors or businesses that support construction.  Most of our contractors are in the commercial arena as opposed to  residential.

Do you take clients outside of the DFW region?  Our primary market is the DFW area, but we have accounts in most major cities now and some out of state as a result of referrals.

What type of insurance coverage/packages do you specialize in?  Our primary focus is insurance designed to protect contractors and that can encompass many coverages.  As the work in construction changes, for example, the use of technology in construction, we are constantly seeking new products to help protect the contractor where they feel a transfer of risk to an insurance carrier is a good business decision. 

How did you get started in the insurance industry?  I was working with an employment agency that sent me on a job interview with an insurance company when I graduated from college.  It was as a claim’s adjuster.  I loved the work, getting to go out and met various businesses and understand their operations while investigating claims.  I did that work for 9 years and ended up as a teacher, surprise, of new claims adjusters.  I then had the opportunity to go into commercial sales with that carrier.  In 1982 I moved my family to DFW and began working as an independent agent. 

What are some of your hobbies?  I love to travel, and I’ve been fortunate that my wife and I have made several wonderful trips.  One that stands out was a trip to Scotland where my wife and I ate dinner at a castle while we were dressed up in local costumes.  I actually wore a kilt!  My favorite place to visit is Kauai.  We try to go every 3 or 4 years, and we are planning to return later this year.  It is a place of pure relaxation.  When I am not traveling, I enjoy reading, golfing, and weight lifting. 

I also enjoy start-up businesses.  Over my career, I have started 7 successful businesses and 1 business that did not make it. 

Finally, I enjoy teaching and helping others learn.  I’ve published several articles and done numerous seminars.  In fact, I was a guest speaker at the National Subcontractors Alliance a few years back when they met in Tampa, Florida. 

How long have you been involved with SAM?  I was introduced to SAM as a guest speaker.  It was a dark and rainy night and only 5 people showed up for the event.  I could not tell you the year but suffice to say, it was a long time ago.  That is when I first met Spike, and that has developed into a long and wonderful friendship. 

What do you enjoy most about SAM?  Of the many associations I have been involved with, SAM has been the friendliest.  The casual atmosphere at SAM creates a terrific opportunity to not only gain knowledge useful to the industry but to meet and get to know people in the construction trades. 

What more would you like to get out of SAM?  I think SAM is on a great path.  It is growing and yet maintains its original character.  Personally, I think SAM members need to be more involved in the politics of construction.  If you are not sitting at the table of politics, then you are often on the menu.  Trade contractors have been slow to get involved and it is evident in the way the current laws favor owners, lenders, and GC’s.  Over the last 15 years some great changes have come about, but there is so much left to do.  I do not see a sense of urgency in this area, and I fear that future changes will take longer unless more contractors get involved.