Ken Brengle is the owner of KB Insurance Group, headquartered in Cortez, CO. He studied business at Fort Lewis College. Outside of class, Ken did a lot of self study and sold cell phones at a local store. He was inspired by his business professors who became successful and moved to Durango for a better quality of life. Ken learned he was a good salesman, and with a sufficient income he thought, “Why should I pay thousands of dollars for college when I was making good money? I decided to leave school and continued to learn on my own.”
Ken moved on and acquired business skills he believed would be useful. He obtained a real estate license, worked for a credit card processing company, and sold cars. His desire was to be his own boss and work in a professional setting. His cousin, Aspen, owned an insurance business in Durango. One of her job requirements was to recruit insurance agents. Aspen recognized Ken’s skill set and potential. She told Ken the insurance industry would be a good fit for him. Ken took her advice. He saw that he could utilize his entrepreneurial spirit, sales experience and become his own boss. Ken obtained his insurance license two weeks after Aspen’s recommendation.
Opportunity soon followed. An acquaintance of his was a member of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. She was in Washington, DC for a Farmers Union conference. A district manager for the insurance company asked her if she knew of someone who would be interested and capable of operating a satellite office in southwest Colorado. She recommended Ken. He called Ken and told him about his plans to open an office. In short time the manager flew to Cortez and the two met. Their meeting ended with Ken accepting an offer to open the new office.
A second opportunity came one week later when Ken read an ad in a local paper. The Small Business Development Center advertised a ten-week course for entrepreneurs starting a business. The course was called the Leading Edge program and would be taught by Cindy Dvergsten. “For me, the course was a great refresher from the college business classes. It was phenomenal. I knew what a business plan was, but the class provided depth and knowledge unknown to me before.” Ken added that Cindy was great at teaching how to think outside of the box. “There are different ways to look at problem solving. There may be a more efficient way to approach things than what was done in the past.” Target marketing, making sure the time and money spent on marketing attracted prospects were also qualified customers, was Ken’s greatest lesson. “If you can bring in more customers, then you can pivot other areas of the business that are failing, including operations. But without sales, business dies.”
The hardest part was to take the business practices taught in class and apply them. “I was starting insurance at the ground level and wanted to do it right, from the beginning. For new entrepreneurs, it isn’t easy. There is lots of hard work and things you don’t know how to do, but if you keep putting one foot forward, it will all come together.”
Ken completed the class in the spring of 2014 while his business was operating. His business was valued at three hundred thousand dollars in premiums in the first year. Almost five years later, business is now on track to reach a million and a half in premiums this year alone. That growth is five times what was earned in his first year. Ken went from a work force of one, himself, to currently employing four people. In addition, KB Insurance Group has a second office in Durango.
“The Small Business Development Center has great resources. They offer lots of opportunity for personal growth and have systems to put in place to be successful. Keep investing in new knowledge and SBDC can help with resources. Never stop learning and never give up.”