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Hard-hitting Horned Frog: Tenacity pays off with decades in insurance business

🕐 6 min read

Not many football players – much less insurance agents – can say they hit the legendary running back Jim Brown hard enough to make him fumble.

But Buddy Dike can. It happened 60 years ago when Texas Christian University nipped Syracuse, 28-27, at the New Year’s Day Cotton Bowl game in Dallas.

At one point in the game, Dike put a hit on Brown that was so hard that Brown let the ball go and TCU recovered. Six decades later, the collision is as clear to Dike as an instant replay image on a LED big screen TV.

“I hit him [Brown] in the belt buckle so hard that it busted my face mask,” Dike said. “Back then, we had a single bar on our face masks about one-fourth-of-an-inch thick. I remember busting my face mask and him fumbling.”

Dike has had that same type hard-hitting determination in the insurance business. Today, at 81, he’s a new member of Higginbotham’s life insurance team after managing a company of his own for more than five decades.

Dike launched The Dike Co., a Fort Worth-based firm, in 1966 to respond to clients’ needs for estate planning, business insurance and employee benefit plans. He later formed The Insurance Alliance to combine expertise in diverse planning disciplines.

In 1991, The Insurance Alliance was acquired by Willis Group Limited, the world’s third-largest insurance broker at that time. Dike served as chairman of Willis-Fort Worth until 1999.

In the late 1990s, he bought back individual life insurance clients and some group benefits clients from Willis.

More changes came in August as Fort Worth-based Higginbotham announced that Dike and his colleagues at The Dike Co. Inc. had joined the insurance firm. One of those colleagues is Tim Engelbert, who joined Dike in 1988. As executive vice presidents at Higginbotham, life insurance brokers Dike and Engelbert and two account managers, Paula Larson and Deidra McAnally, are supplementing Higginbotham’s existing life and estate planning professionals.

The Dike Co. has moved from the office it occupied since 2006 at 3200 W. Fourth St. to Higginbotham at 500 W. 13th St. in Fort Worth. It is operating under the Higginbotham name.

“I never dreamed I’d still be doing this, and at my age now I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to do it,” Dike said. “But as long as I feel good and enjoy what I’m doing and I feel I can contribute a little something in the business I do, I want to continue to do it.”

For many years, Dike has convinced his clients that insurance can be a big safety net.

“The needs for life insurance are multiple,” Dike said. “The majority of people get married and have a family and have obligations. When you start to have children, that’s at least a 20-year commitment and maybe longer because you generally see them through college.

“Basically, if you have an earnings capacity of that 20-year period of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of what you’re going to bring home to provide for the family, but all of a sudden you get hit by a truck coming home from work, where do you expect your family to get the income? That’s one of the primary things that we learned when I started in the insurance business, was how much insurance should I have for my situation.”

Dike said life insurance can make a big difference with there’s an unexpected death.

“Life insurance mainly protected the income that the bread winner was providing for the family, and that’s still the case,” he said. “Then, as people get older and successful and accumulate assets, then life insurance protects liquidity for the estate to be sure that you can pass on what you have earned for your heirs, which is where estate planning comes in.

“Life insurance is a financial tool that provides a way to create a lot of dollars by putting out a few cents at a time.”

Dike has been well-known in the Fort Worth business, insurance and philanthropic communities since his time as TCU’s football captain in 1957, the season following his team’s Cotton Bowl win against Syracuse. He was inducted into the TCU Lettermen’s Hall of Fame and named TCU Valuable Alumnus in 1978.

He is former president of the Fort Worth Association of Life Underwriters, Fort Worth Society of Financial Service Professionals and Fort Worth Business and Estate Council. He is a board member of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, a TCU Board of Trustees emeritus member and a Davey O’Brien Foundation Advisory Board member.

Over the years, Dike has helped many clients with their insurance plans. One of them is oil executive Hunter Enis of Fort Worth, who played football along with Dike at TCU in the late 1950s and then played professionally. Enis said Dike runs his insurance business with the same intensity that he had when played Horned Frogs football.

“Just like he was competitive in football, he’s the same way in business,” Enis said. “He gets out there and works hard. He’s got the attributes that make for success. He works hard at his job. He’s relentless.”

Clifton Morris of Fort Worth, the former CEO of AmeriCredit Corp., is another one of Dike’s clients.

“He’s probably the most knowledgeable insurance executive that I know,” Morris said of Dike. “He’s served millions of dollars worth of coverage in town and out of town. He perseveres and he seldom takes no for an answer. He does not give up. He’s tough.”

Joe Williams, a Greenville businessman who played football with Dike at TCU, said Dike succeeds because he has an incredible work ethic.

“Buddy is one guy who can do 36 hours of work in 24 hours,” Williams said. “He’s doing so many things at once – some of them will be on insurance, and then he’s got a golf game that’s coming up and then he’s told somebody he will try a car out. He doesn’t end the day until he’s done everything he’s said he’s going to do. He’s just constantly on the move. He’s highly competitive and wants to win and he’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

Dike and his wife, Sara, have three children – David, Michael and Susanne – nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Dike praised his wife as a great help.

“She’s the main reason for any success that I’ve had,” Dike said. “She’s raised our children. She’s always been supportive of what I’ve done over the years.”

Dike’s main hobbies are traveling, spending time with family activities, attending horse races, playing golf and, of course, supporting TCU athletics.

After playing as a starting fullback and inside linebacker at TCU, Dike had the opportunity to play pro football in Vancouver. But he had suffered internal injuries including a ruptured kidney playing at TCU and opted not to continue playing football.

When Dike began selling insurance in the late 1950s, sales were slow. But he persevered and built up a business. He compares insurance sales success to successfully playing football.

“In football, you have to get used to getting knocked down, you have to get back up and go to the next play,” Dike said. “By comparison, when you’re in the insurance business, you get similar effect. You might not physically get knocked down, but you might lose a sale or not do as well as you think you can. It takes a lot of determination to do the things you need to do to be successful.”

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