Top 100: Top Private Company Executive: Rusty Reid, Chairman, President and CEO: Higginbotham

Rusty Reid

Higginbotham was founded 70 years ago in Fort Worth by Paul C. Higginbotham. His nephew, Bill Stroud, took over in 1962 and mentored Rusty Reid from when he joined Higginbotham in 1986 until he assumed leadership in 1989.

Higginbotham provides a single-source solution for insurance and financial services. The firm brokers business insurance, employee benefits, retirement plans, executive benefits, life insurance and home/auto insurance from more than 250 regional and national carriers.

It supplements coverage with in-house risk management and benefit plan administration services that it calls Day Two Services. Higginbotham operates 29 offices in Texas and Oklahoma City, and it ranks by revenue as the nation’s 27th largest independent insurance brokerage firm, making it the largest Texas-based broker, according to Business Insurance (July 2018).

Gross billings in 2017 were $172,606,000.

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Rusty Reid and company officials replied to a questionnaire from the Fort Worth Business Press.

What differentiates your company from others in a similar business?

When Rusty Reid assumed leadership of Higginbotham in 1989, one of his first initiatives was to adopt an employee ownership plan. He had the foresight to understand that employee ownership would benefit not only the individual employees, but the firm as well by attracting and retaining the best and brightest talent.

Employee ownership drives Higginbotham’s growth because it aligns employees’ interests to deliver outstanding customer service, which helps retain clients and attract new ones. Higginbotham gives every employee – from the receptionist to the corner office executive – ownership in the firm. It allows them to profit from their individual contributions to the firm’s growth.

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The plan creates a sense of unity and encourages teamwork because when the firm wins, employees win, too. Every individual’s contribution is of equal importance, and they are recognized as such through the perks of employee ownership.

All businesses go through some tough times. What was your greatest challenge and how did you respond to it?

In the height of the 2008 recession, Higginbotham weathered the storm; however, it was still a challenge to keep employee morale high. We made a point to focus on the achievements we made as a team, like winning new accounts, and recognize the employees who contributed to our success. The increased communications to our employees reinforced that Higginbotham was executing our strategic growth plans.

The business climate is changing rapidly. What do you foresee as challenges?

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Concerning federal/local government regulation: We view very friendly in Texas, our primary market

Concerning access to labor: With unemployment rates being so low, we need to keep an eye on this issue as a growing business.

In general, do you see the present business climate as challenging, uncertain or optimistic and why?

We’re optimistic. The economy is booming, especially in Texas, our primary market. Although the unemployment rate is low, Higginbotham continues to have job candidates who want to join our team, but we have stayed true to our strategy of hiring only the best and brightest.

If you could make one and only one change in the present business climate, what would it be and why?

In our digital age, which Higginbotham embraces, I wish there was an opportunity to slow down and spend more time engaging in more one-on-one conversations.

There is no substitute for oral communication, especially face to face. You can really sense people’s passion, sincerity, honesty – their character. It’s difficult to truly appreciate where someone stands on an issue when you text, email, Facebook, etc.


500 W. 13th St., Fort Worth

Number of people employed: 945

– Paul K. Harral