By Choice, Not Necessity (EDITORS NOTE)

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 83 views 

One of the fastest growing employee benefits practices in the country is Regions Insurance, a subsidiary of Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp., and a regional player with 27 offices across 10 states in the southeast U.S. and Indiana.

In fact, a recent report by trade publication Employee Benefit News ranked Regions Insurance among the 10 fastest growing EB brokerages in the U.S. among those with $10 million to $50 million in large-group revenue.

Regions’ EB practice generated $21 million in 2013 revenue, and is expected to end this year with a little more than $50 million.

And the man who is guiding the division into a national brand does so from a Joyce Boulevard office building in Fayetteville.

And, he will happily tell you, that’s by choice, not necessity.

Tom Hayes, living in Little Rock at the time, joined Regions Insurance eight years ago as the EB practice leader over Arkansas. Regions Insurance had a Fayetteville office, too, and for the next two years, Hayes wore out the interstate between the two cities every week.

One day, though, he asked his boss if he could move here. It was permitted, so long as the Little Rock office wasn’t neglected.

Three years ago, when corporate CEO Curren Coco asked him to be the national practice leader for Regions’ EB division, Hayes had just one question.

“Do I have to move?”

“Not unless you want to,” Coco said. “As long as you have access to an airport, you’re good.”

Hayes had the option to relocate to either of Regions’ two main hubs (Memphis or Birmingham), but he chose to stay in Fayetteville.

Those are the kinds of tributes to Northwest Arkansas that are becoming so common.

As the old maxim goes, 20 years ago, executives were dispatched kicking and screaming to live and work in Northwest Arkansas.

The only protest now is asking those same men and women to live and work elsewhere.  

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