Founding principles | Monocle

thumbnail text

Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Holmes Murphy is in the business of insurance brokerage services. Not the most alluring-sounding game in town, you might think, and the Holmes Murphy team would be the first to say the same. But they also know it doesn’t scratch the surface of the passion and depth of understanding contained in the business. 

Marking 90 years of Holmes Murphy, this 16-page special throws the floor open to its leaders, wealth-builders and brokers who impart hard-won lessons in leadership. It will also look at the entrepreneurism of a company that has incubated and sold several subsidiary businesses, with seven wholly-owned subsidiaries under its wing, as well as the aspirational culture of a fiercely independent firm owned by its employees. 

Reaching this milestone has taken mettle. The firm was founded in 1932 during the Great Depression, when Iowa businessman Max Holmes opened an insurance agency that could reassure businesses amid great uncertainty. Later, he met Raymond Murphy Jr, a competitive salesman, and together they built a partnership that has outlived them both. 

Holmes Murphy is rooted in Iowa where the firm began and its HQ remains. In the 1980s a second office opened in Texas and others have since proliferated. Here are a few of the key US outposts.

1. Minneapolis

This office is rooted in the construction industry. “These businesses are betting the house every day,” says Roger Cornett, president of Holmes Murphy’s construction companies trust CSDZ. “We help them to prevent accidents and send risk experts to their job sites. If something does go wrong, we’ve got a claims action team to guide them through the process.”

2. Sioux Falls

Doug Muth is senior VP in South Dakota: “Our long-standing client is Journey Group, a general contractor specialising in medical facilities, industrial businesses and bridges; today its insurance costs 50 per cent less than a decade ago.”

3. Denver

The Colorado office serves clients across the Rockies. “We strive each day to help our clients meet their growth objectives, contain costs and improve employee health and wellbeing,” says Denver-based Margaret Hare, VP of client services.

4. Des Moines and Omaha

Iowa’s state capital is home to Holmes Murphy’s HQ. Across the state border in Nebraska, the Omaha office serves a client list that includes energy management firm Tenaska and denim retailer The Buckle.

5. Kansas City

Among its clients is Associated Benefits
Corporation (ABC), serving farming cooperatives: “Holmes Murphy has been instrumental over the past 20 years in helping us maintain and grow our presence in the Midwest,” says ABC’s president Dan Edgington.

6. Dallas

This Texas outpost brokers insurance plans and employee benefits for mid-size and large employers nationally. “It is fascinating to find ourselves, in the room, advising on multimillion dollar benefits packages for their employees,” says Travis Dent, senior VP in the Dallas office.


Also found in...
Peoria, Illinois; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; Bigfork, Montana; Salt Lake City, Utah; Scottsdale, Arizona; Madison, Wisconsin; and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Share on:






Go back: Contents



sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Big Interview