Jordan Fee is a 4th-generation owner of Fee Insurance Group.

Recently, Jordan shared his thoughts on a series of questions centered on the business of family business. This candid insight from Jordan revealed his thoughts and perspectives as a next gen business owner.

Fee has been an independent, family-owned company for over 130 years. Jordan’s father, Allen, is the company CEO and his uncle, Bob, is the company president. Jordan is a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Authority on Workers Compensation (CAWC), and a Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS).

Personally… Jordan and his wife, Heather, welcomed their first child in 2018.

Tell me about your earliest memories of being a part of a family business.
JF: Some of the earliest memories I have are of my mom bringing my brother and me to the office to see my dad, uncle, and grandpa. It was always a big deal for us because we got to have a pop every time.

What was the first work you can remember doing for the company? 
JF: Every year at Christmastime, we received calendars and my dad would always have my brother and I go out, around the community, and deliver them to some of our clients. It was always kind of a big deal.

When do you consciously remember saying, “I want to become a part of the family business”? 
JF: I always had a great appreciation for what my dad, grandpa, and my uncle did in regards to community, the relationships they built with people, and the type of work they did in helping people reduce risk.

Right out of college I went and did an internship in a medical malpractice insurance company in Minnesota. It was a great experience. I wanted to apply the same traits of work ethic and building relationships that my dad, uncle and grandpa exhibited. I wanted to do what my dad did but didn’t necessarily know it would mean the family business specifically.

The older I became, my early 20’s, the more evident it was to me that I had a connection to the insurance industry. Helping people with their insurance needs and reducing their risk was something I would enjoy and be comfortable having a conversation around. I also knew that I had room to grow and would be challenged in a good way.

This is when being part of the family business became a serious deal for me. I knew I really wanted to be a part of Fee as a company. It’s definitely not an easy thing to do. I would challenge people who think it is; it’s actually harder working with family than it would be working in a company where people aren’t related.

Why is that?
JF: The expectations placed on me as a Fee were automatic. They were way more than what I would have experienced working with a company that wasn’t founded and led by family. The separation of family and the business is a challenge. We work together, but we also want to be able to enjoy each other outside of work. We are passionate and committed to our business. We also want to be able to enjoy family barbecues and holidays without work being the center of every conversation. Even when we’re dealing with something challenging or intense at the office. Someone who doesn’t work with family wouldn’t have this level of understanding or have to deal with the family work balance and blend.

How do you define your own identity given the family relationships and legacy? How do you work on defining you every day in this business?
JF: It’s definitely difficult.  You grow up and you come into this business and you see what others have done to make it successful. I’ve seen and heard the stories of what my grandfather did to grow this business by building relationships and establishing trust. I see the same commitment from my father and my uncle as well. I want to be known for the same level of relationship and trust with people. At the same time, I understand I’ve got to be my own person. I’m not them. I’ve got my own style. I’ve got different ways I go about things. I handle problems and situations differently than they do. The struggle, and the thing that I remind myself of continuously is, I’ve got to just be myself in all situations. I can’t constantly think, “Should I have handled it this way because that’s the way my dad would have handled this?” I’ve had to determine my own thoughts on situations while always keeping in mind what’s best for the company. It’s important that I know who I am and focus on my trajectory as a professional while valuing the perspectives shared by my father and my uncle.

So, when you started at the ground level, was that your idea? Was it your dad’s idea? Was it a requirement? 
JF: Allen, Bob, and I all agreed that’s where I was going to have to start in order to get a good understanding of how the business works and operates. If I earned a place of leadership, I would have a good understanding of why things happen, how success is achieved, why problems occur, and so forth. Entry-level work was a good place to start to be able to give me the best picture of how the work got done. How we deal with clients, how we deal with companies, and how we deal with our employees. This was about looking at the complete picture of the business.

Not long ago, you became an owner of the company. Did you always know that you wanted to work towards becoming an owner?
JF: You know, that’s a great question. I think once I got to the point where I decided the company meant enough to me that I wanted to be a part of it, as an individual, in the family, with this name, I knew that ownership was a potential. It wasn’t guaranteed and it was going to have to be earned over many years. Which it was. I feel comfortable in my leadership and abilities. But yet, I felt like the name, the company, this legacy went beyond my abilities. They meant enough to me that if I earned the opportunity, I would be honored to represent the ownership team of this organization because I believe in the mission, I love the legacy, and I want to do anything I can to preserve it into the future.

What is the most rewarding part of family business? 
JF: I think the most rewarding thing for me is the leadership and the people that have come before me. The people that made this company and made the brand what it is today across the state and beyond. To have that attached to my last name, that’s pretty rewarding. I’m very proud to be able to say, “I’m a Fee”. Again, it’s because of the leadership here, the people that are a part of the company, and all the loyal customers and clients that have trusted us to handle insurance and risk management for them over the lifetime of this organization. That trust in us, that’s rewarding to me. It’s rewarding for me to be viewed as a trusted advisor in this organization and continue to be viewed as a trusted advisor with our customers.

If you were to share one thought with NextGen leaders, who are pursuing ownership in a family business, what would it be? 
JF: Something that my dad always has stressed with us is never lose sight of your foundation and what’s important to you. For any NextGen thinking about leadership and ownership, I’d offer the same thought. If the legacy of your family business is important to you, if that’s your foundation, always remember that and never lose sight of that focus.

The legacy of Fee, moving it forward and getting even better for the people that have trusted in us for so long. That’s my foundation. Family business, just like any other business, doesn’t come without challenges. Always rely on the foundation of why you’re doing what you’re doing. I remind myself of this foundation regularly. Why I’m here, why I believe in Fee, how it aligns with who I am, and where I’d like to see it go into the future. This is how I know I’m in the right place and how NextGen family business leaders and owners will know they’re in the right spot.

This is the foundation that gives me the confidence that I’m doing what I want to do in further defining the legacy and leadership of our company.

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