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Houchens Industries is one of the world’s largest wholly employee-owned companies, with a diverse portfolio. One of those portfolio companies is Houchens Insurance Group (HIG), headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. HIG is a full-service independent insurance broker built over 40 years from a combination of five insurance organizations.

HIG began in 1977 as an independent insurance agency called the Center of Insurance. In the late 1990s, the Center of Insurance became a HIG portfolio company. HIG next added a company with benefits expertise, followed by a company with broad insurance expertise.

HIG expanded its regional footprint with further acquisitions, most recently adding Roeding Insurance in northern Kentucky. The Roeding expansion brought expertise in the public entity arena and added a significant volume to HIG’s commercial book. While the company focuses on the commercial lines market, HIG provides various insurance products, including solutions tailored for education and public entities.

High-Quality Service

HIG is the 46th largest insurance broker in the United States, with nearly 400 employee-owners and locations across Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.

“We offer extremely high-quality service,” says HIG Chair Cecil Martin. “We represent only the best companies; we offer all the tools it takes to get to the pricing our clients need – and a fair price.”

Of course, growth can lead to new challenges – and in 2019, HIG management realized that much of the company’s IT infrastructure was designed to support HIG when the business was smaller. As HIG’s pace of growth began to increase, it was clear that the existing IT infrastructure could not support the company’s planned growth.

Tom Richardson, HIG’s Director of IT, said the growth stretched his staff thin as they tried to handle daily IT requests, keep track of hardware and software, manage maintenance and support and work with management on new technology projects. At that time, HIG also had all its servers on-premises, making it vulnerable to power failures, storms or other disasters. And with that design, a problem at headquarters would mean a problem for all its locations.

Enter ImageQuest, a Managed Security Services Provider an hour away in Nashville, Tennessee. HIG engaged ImageQuest to address the company’s IT scaling challenges, and ImageQuest recommended HIG move its data and critical IT infrastructure to the cloud. The solution gave HIG a state-of-the-art technology platform to support current operations and seamlessly scale with future growth.

HIG and ImageQuest: Adaptable Together

Moving its data and systems to the cloud, accessed via virtual desktops, allowed HIG’s employees to work efficiently from anywhere. And this proved prescient for HIG because, within months of completing the move to the cloud, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, sending everyone home. But business continued as usual for HIG without a hitch, albeit remotely.

That experience fostered an even deeper trust between HIG and ImageQuest, and the two companies began working together to promote a common interest – protecting clients against cyber threats. HIG’s cyber insurance experts have teamed with ImageQuest’s cybersecurity experts to educate clients on cyber threats and effective defenses and countermeasures. The partners refer business to each other and often support the other’s clients with tailored advice and guidance.

“We both understand what a good client looks like for the other, and we are intentional about referring business to each other,” says ImageQuest Executive Vice President Jay Mallory. “We view each other as subject matter experts in our respective fields, and we have a vested interest in each other’s long-term success.”

ImageQuest mirrors HIG’s focus on its clients’ success and strives to be a responsive, forward-looking partner that leverages its expertise to empower its clients to succeed. That expertise is in information security and IT, and much of that is focused on regulated companies. That makes ImageQuest an easy choice for HIG to recommend to its clients.

As should be the case in any partnership, both companies have benefited from their relationship. HIG has grown in revenues, clients, and employees since ImageQuest began advising the company. And ImageQuest has nearly doubled its revenue and headcount in that same time.

Both partners have earned national recognition. Insurance Journal honored HIG in 2022 as one of the top Property and Casualty Insurance Agencies in the United States. At the same time, ImageQuest was a repeat CRN Security 100 winner and a repeat INC 5000 honoree in 2021 and 2022.

When two business partners trust in and prosper with each other, the outcomes can exceed all expectations!

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