When Caring Matters Most

The phrase “truly cares” gets thrown around a lot, but it is being used so often by employees at Wood Gutmann & Bogart Insurance Brokers that it was impossible to write it off as a cliche.

“WGB truly cares for its employees,” wrote one employee. That employee also wrote that the firm respects and values women and minorities, who “are given equal opportunities to thrive in our culture” in an environment with “no micromanagement, a lot of autonomy for entrepreneurial spirits.”

Employees at the Tustin, Calif.-based firm voted it as Insurance Journal’s Best Agency to Work For in the West region. WBG earned the Gold Award. The nomination process has employees rank the firm in several categories in online forms and also comment on just why theirs is the best agency to work for.

It’s not the first time WGB has been recognized. The firm took home the Silver Award in 2017. That’s truly a big accomplishment.

“You got to truly stand behind your principles and your core beliefs,” said Kevin Bogart, CEO of the firm.

What are those core beliefs?

“It’s people and families before money, frankly,” Bogart said.

There was no shortage of employees who made mention in their comments of WGB’s response to the pandemic.

In less than a week after stay-at-home orders began rolling out, the firm had taken nearly half of its remaining employees who still worked in the office and had them switched over to work-from-home environments.

Computers were ordered, those without high-speed internet connections got them set up with the help of IT and many mobile phones were purchased.

Taken at the Wood Gutmann & Bogart lobby. From Left to Right: Bob Gore, president and managing partner of Gore Lieske & Associates Insurance Brokers (an affiliate of WGB); John Janssen, president and partner, WGB Benefits; Peter Barsky, vice president, emerging business group; Kevin Bogart, CEO; Lisa Doherty, executive director, private client services; Rob Lieske, partner and managing director of insurance operations of Gore Lieske & Associates Insurance Brokers; Erik Johansson, president of Performance Bonding (an affiliate of WGB)

“I think we bought 75 mobile phones in one day,” Bogart said. “This has been a harder year money wise due to the expenses to make this happen.”

It may help that WBG has been steadily growing its size and revenue. When it won Silver in 2017, the firm reported more than $20 million in revenue. At the end of last year, WGB was at about $33 million in revenue — with the help of $4 million coming from its burgeoning benefits division — with roughly 130 employees and counting.

“When the pandemic erupted, they had a contingency plan within a couple of days,” wrote one employee who described WGB’s rapid response to the pandemic. “We held weekly video calls to get the status of our organization and address any concerns anyone had. The leadership isn’t there to simply demand excellence, but their heart is written all over the company. They care.”

Another wrote that the firm “was proactive and took the health and well-being of its employees very seriously and at great expense to them.”

It’s not just the employees who are cared about, another noted.

They’ve created a staff that works in sync with each other “to deliver the best environment to our team while ensuring the integrity of their products doesn’t get overlooked with their customers,” the employee wrote. “Quite simply, I’ve been impressed by how much they care about all aspects of their business.”

Bogart, believes it is the firm’s values that have helped them weather the pandemic so far, and without a single layoff.

He’s also looking at 2020 like it deserves to be seen — in the rearview mirror, when better times are upon us — and as an opportunity to achieve in a very brief time what had been a three-year goal to enable more employees to work from home and give them the flexibility to better handle their jobs as well as whatever life throws at them.

“We’ll put an asterisk beyond this year and just call it what it was,” Bogart said. “What was probably a three-year project became a one-week project at the start of this crazy thing.”

For those who aren’t convinced the firm cares, here’s one employee’s comments that should do the trick.

“I have said it before I will say it again, they just care,” the employee wrote. “This company is run by good kind people who care about people. I cannot say enough about the leadership, from the owners to the IT and management, they care about the employees and clients. I really feel they want the best for their employees, and they know if their employees are taken care of then employees tend to take care of the company right back. They get it.”