Great Places to Work: MHBT - An Interview with CEO Bill Henry

via Bill Peel
March 16th, 2015

Founded in 1996, MHBT is one of the largest independent insurance firms in Texas and is among the top 50 Independent brokers in the U.S., serving clients from offices in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Lubbock, and Midland. 

MHBT is consistently recognized as one of the best companies to work for regionally and nationally, and their culture has propelled them to the forefront of their industry. They are committed to developing leaders by empowering all of their employees to excel within a framework of mutual respect, commitment to integrity, and dedication to collaborative planning and problem solving. 

I recently spoke with Bill Henry, Chairman and CEO about the remarkable culture at MHBT.

Tell me about MHBT and what you all do? 

MHBT is a property and casualty,employee benefits insurance brokerage. We specialize in middle to upper middle market customers. We have 385 employees committed to bringing measurable value to our clients. The most important thing we do is listen and try to understand our clients’ needs. The last thing we want to do is sell an insurance policy. We’re in the business to sell insurance for sure, but when we meet with a client, the last thing on our minds is selling insurance. We want to see how we can help them, and if we can, we want to exceed every expectation.

MHBT is consistently listed as as a great place to work. How does MHBT foster an environment that encourages people to be excited about coming to work everyday? 

I think number one, we treat our people with dignity and respect. When they come to work at MHBT they know that they are going to be proud of the way we conduct ourselves with our customers, with our employees, and our vendors, and  each other. And it is a fun place to work! All of this starts at the top. 

How do you make it fun? 
Starting with me, and about over half of our 44 partners, we are all half way crazy. 

Treating people with dignity & respect is part of the DNA of MHBT. Where did this commitment come from?

Well I think it’s something that I learned from my dad and my granddad. It was something that was very important to them. My dad didn’t know skin color and he didn’t know anything about social status. He just knew people; and he loved people. He felt like you should treat everybody from the smallest to the largest the same way.

You have a unique hiring philosophy at MHBT. You call it “hiring people like us” PLUs? Why do you do this and how have you seen its effecting the atmosphere and the environment in your business?

What we try to do is bring people in that are going to be a fit and that are going to enjoy the other people they work with. We’re interested not only in people’s experience, but what’s in their heart. When we say “People Like Us” we’re not talking about clones, we are talking about people with the same values and ethical standards. And, individuals who treat people with dignity and respect. The bottom line is, you spend more time at work than you do home. We want people to care about each other. When people experience that kind of environment, that’s translates into real concern we show clients day in and day out.

You also value leadership at all levels of your business. How do you encourage people to take leadership responsibilities at the different levels of your company? 

One way we do it is by the way hire. We look for people used to being in a leadership roles. I can’t be there with every employee at every meeting, and every discussion. In my mind it’s kind of like a football team. You can have a coach on the sidelines but you really have to have people that are in the game at all levels, that know what the game plan is and they are all taking that game plan down to into the trenches. We want people that will listen to a client’s concerns and challenges and then offer creative solutions not a cookie cutter set of products. 

You are a follower of Christ. How has this influenced how you have gone about shaping the culture at MHBT? 

One thing you need to know about our company, a lot of our senior partners view MHBT as a ministry. We think that the way we treat each other with dignity & respect, and the way we treat our customers, our vendors, and the way we act everyday is a part of that ministry. People pay a lot more attention to what they see than what they hear. You can tell me anything you want to, but if you don’t walk the walk then it’s actually counter productive.

Not everyone at MHBT is a Christian. How does this play with them?

We have all religions; we have atheists;  we have all kinds at MHBT. You don’t have to be a Christian to work here, but you better act like one in the way you treat people, in your moral and ethical standards. When people come to work here they know that’s the way we are and I think that drives our whole culture. I think this attracts people, and once they see it’s not all fluff, but this is really the way you are, I think you keep your people. I believe that’s why we have a very low turnover. 

The thing we are the most proud of is our culture. We care about people way beyond business. When one of our people has a problem, we do whatever it takes to get them through a tough time. I think one of the keys to our success has been the fact that the culture attracts really good people and once they’re part of our team it keeps them here.