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updated: 12/5/2016 8:35 AM

‘I look up to my father because he took a huge risk opening an insurance agency’

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Q: How do you describe your company?

A: Esser Hayes is a team of dedicated insurance professionals providing risk management solutions for individuals and corporations seeking property and casualty insurance as well as life and health insurance.

Q: What's new at your company?

A: December 6, 2016 begins our 75th year in business. We are 80 people strong and each year continue to add great new people to our team, because although our products don't change, our services continue to evolve to support our clients need to reduce their total insurance costs.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: Esser Hayes is growing fast and our plans are to continue to attract the best sales and service people in the insurance area.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: Talent development will be the company's main challenge. We will continue to develop risk management and leadership skills across all levels of the organization.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Creating specialization or "verticals" in specific industries to service clients's needs in more specialized ways.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Don't feel the need to change too fast; it's important to respect the history of your firm and listen to the folks that get it done every day.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: We are all teammates -- no one works for you, they work with you.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: I look up to my father because he took a huge risk opening an insurance agency, but he had the positive, patient outlook to grow a wonderful business.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: We have a very large homeowners and automobile insurance practice that is very competitive.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: I enjoy working out, golfing, skiing and attending my kid's events.

Q: What book is on your nightstand? The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis -- evil is all around in the form of something that initially appears to be good.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Uncovered claims or coverage interpretation issues/conflicts.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I worked in the lumber yard at Moser Lumber, loading contractor vehicles with lumber, drywall & various building materials.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: Nothing iconic, the traditionalists will hate you -- has anyone forgiven "Willis" for the Sears Tower? Guaranteed Rate for Comisky, etc.

- Kim Mikus

• We interview a local company CEO or president in every issue. We are looking for additional leaders to feature in the Coffee Break segment. Contact Editor Kim Mikus for details at