Lifestyle Personal Lines the December 2022 issue

Bradley Plummer, SVP, Employee Benefits, Cottingham & Butler

“I’m not shy about the fact that we like to dig in and actually be kind of an insurance nerd.”
By Chris Hann Posted on December 1, 2022
Q
You have two sons who are Division I college quarterbacks. How does that happen?
A
Jack [who started this season for the University of California] really took a love to start playing flag football at a pretty young age and was really fortunate to have had a wonderful group of parents that were running a flag football program in Gilbert, Arizona, and got some really great instruction when he was probably eight, nine, 10 years old. His younger brother followed in his footsteps. They both played at the same high school. Jack started there for three years. When he was finished, Will took over and started two years. Will’s now at the University of Arizona.

FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: St. John

FAVORITE GOLF COURSE: Pebble Beach

FAVORITE MOVIE: Godfather II

FAVORITE ACTOR: Tom Hanks

FAVORITE MUSICAL GROUP: Dead and Company

FAVORITE DUBUQUE SPOT TO TAKE VISITORS: Lot One (“It’s on the corner of First Street and Main Street in the oldest town in the state of Iowa. It was the first plot in a lot in the town. It’s got a nice beer selection, and it’s a fun place to hang out.”)

FAVORITE DUBUQUE RESTRAURANT: Brazen (“It’s a farm-to-table concept place. They don’t have any freezers, so everything is fresh.”)

FAVORITE DISH AT BRAZEN: Fried chicken (“It’s probably the most ridiculous fried chicken that almost anybody will have ever tried. That’s the one thing that stays on the menu all year round.”)

Q
How often do you get to see them play?
A
Last year, out of the 13 weeks that they played, I was probably at a game 11 of the 13 weeks.
Q
What has kept you in the industry your entire career?
A
When I started running our employee benefits division, we were seven figures. Now we’re $42 million, $43 million on benefits, and we’ll finish this year somewhere close to $300 million in revenue as a firm. We’ve grown from a handful more than 100 people when I joined to 1,150 today. It’s been a really fun ride.
Q
Tell me something about Iowa that most of us who don’t live in Iowa would be surprised to learn.
A
Most people, when you think about Iowa, you think flat—corn as far as the eye can see. We’re situated up here on the banks of the Mississippi, where Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin come together. It’s beautiful, rugged terrain. When you go a little bit north of here, you have some countryside that will absolutely just take your breath away. It kind of reminds you of some of the rolling hills in Europe.
Q
Tell me about Dubuque.
A
When I moved here in 1998, it was pretty sleepy. There were large swaths of the downtown and the former warehouse district that were boarded up. There’s really been just an incredible revival here, a lot of really cool old buildings—I’m sitting in one right now—that have been renovated and saved from demolition. It’s one of the things that our chairman, John Butler, is very passionate about.
Q
You mentioned you enjoy trail running, and I want to make sure I understand what that is, other than running on trails.
A
It’s basically that. I think I lived in this town in excess of 15 years before I got off the sidewalks and went out to explore some of the parks around the town. I discovered a state park that’s just south of town. It’s called Mines of Spain and dates back to the 1700s. It’s this wonderful collection of trails—flat ones, steep ones. You can go through forests. You can go up and down bluffs, or you can run through prairies.
Q
Besides running on trails, what do you like to do when you’re not working?
A
I do like to play golf. This past summer I hired a coach. I ended up shaving eight strokes off my handicap.
Q
If you could change one thing about the insurance industry, what would it be?
A
Wring out some of the inefficiency in how we procure insurance. The annual process of renewing your contracts and dealing with the carriers, it’s just so antiquated and inefficient.
Q
What gives you your leader’s edge?
A
When people ask me what I do, my answer has been the same for 24 years. I always say I’m an insurance broker. I’m not shy about the fact that we like to dig in and actually be kind of an insurance nerd.
Chris Hann Associate Editor Read More

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