Hub International chief Hughes stepping down – Finance News

on Sep7

6 September 2017 | 5:54 pm

In a city where larger-than-life business leaders like Pat Ryan have made their fortunes in the insurance business, Martin Hughes has assumed a lower profile.

But the native of Chicago’s East Side quietly has built an insurance empire himself as he prepares to step down as CEO of Chicago-based Hub International at the end of the year.

Hughes, 68, who will become executive chairman and be succeeded as CEO by company President Marc Cohen, has overseen a remarkable growth story at the commercial insurance brokerage since he took over in 1999. Once a small firm with about $50 million in revenue, Hub is now approaching $2 billion in revenue with operations throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Hub employs about 11,000, with about 550 of those in Chicago.

“It’s either the sixth- or seventh-largest brokerage in the world,” he said in an interview.

Since 1999, the company has acquired more than 400 smaller brokerages. That, combined with organic growth in the industry, has fueled its rise.

It was one of those acquisitions, a small, publicly traded firm called Kaye Group in 2001, that brought Cohen to Hub. He never left, eventually becoming president of the New York office and later of the East Coast region before becoming Hub’s president.

Cohen is based in New York, and will stay there, Hughes said. But the company will remain based in Chicago.

“The (CEO) job requires you to be on the road all the time,” Hughes said.

Hub is privately held—for now. San Francisco-based private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman holds the majority of shares, but employees own about 30 percent of the firm, he said.

Hellman & Friedman acquired the firm in 2013, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a public offering takes place within the next few years to give the owners an exit.

If so, Hub could well become one of the larger new publicly traded firms in Chicago in the near future.

As for Hughes, he plans to continue working at Hub on close to a full-time basis.

“I intend to stay involved for a while for sure,” he said.



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