Leader of the Pack

Power advice from Bud Hornbeck, area chairman for Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance.

Bud Hornbeck knows what it feels like to hold a place in a Hall of Fame. It’s an honor he’s received twice in his 44-year career in the insurance industry, where he’s grown from working with his father’s business to selling one that he started all on his own—and to Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., one of the largest insurance brokers in the world. In 2006, he joined the ranks of race car driver Roger Penske and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt when he was inducted into Culver Military Academy’s Athletic Hall of Fame (he was the captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams at Culver Military Academy in Indiana during his senior year of high school). This past October, Hornbeck’s work as a role model for youth was acknowledged by the Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, who inducted him into the 2019 Business Hall of Fame, Collier County.

Leadership is a skill that seems to come naturally to Hornbeck, not only in his current position as area chairman at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., but also in his past and present roles as volunteer chairman for the PGA Seniors Golf Tournament in Naples, president of the Greater Naples Little League, director for The Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, and chairman of the Winged Foot Scholarship Foundation, which recognizes the top senior scholar-athletes from Collier County high schools. “I’m proud we can recognize these students with the Winged Foot Award because they’re the kind of people you don’t hear enough about in the newspaper,” he says. “It’s incredible that our school systems, both public and private, have produced this kind of talent.”

Over the 17 years he spent as president and CEO of Lutgert Insurance, Hornbeck grew the regional company from 23 employees to more than 90, becoming one of the largest independent agencies in Southwest Florida. The challenge, he says, was the growth potential and finding qualified, experienced professionals who could help the company continue to evolve. “To offer a high level of service was our number one priority, and you have to have the personnel to do it,” he says. “We were fortunate to attract good, quality people.”

Now, at a global brokerage like Gallagher, he can rely on divisions of people who are experts and resources in their respective areas. The firm is also a leader in ethical business practices and was named one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute. “That’s very important to me and how I’ve always wanted to run our businesses,” he says, “so they are as ethical and professional as possible.”

Now, he’s looking to share the skills he’s acquired over his four decades in the insurance industry with the next generation entering the company. “I want to see the young people I’ve brought into our office succeed, and I’m going to do everything I can to help them over the next few years,” he says.

As for those considering a future in the insurance business, Hornbeck recommends starting with an internship. “The insurance industry is an enormous industry. People think of insurance as just being out there and selling, but there are so many different opportunities,” he says. “Interning really gives you a chance to get that hands-on experience, and it gives you a much better position to make a solid decision.”