Julia Miller Spracklen, COO at Roach Howard Smith & Barton, is an experienced Vice President of Risk with a demonstrated history of working in the insurance industry. She has strong company development skills, a Juris Doctor with a specialization in Law from Baylor Law School, and expertise in Employment Practices Liability, Surety, Insurance Claims, Bad Faith, and Fiduciary.
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Julia Miller Spracklen:
Describe who you are as a person, inside and outside of the workplace.
Outside of work my husband and I strive to be good stewards in our community. We have or currently participate in a variety of ways, such as leading food and toy drives for underserved communities, as well as previous service in a troubled youth student ministry and providing employment opportunities to the homeless on an ongoing basis. Additionally, I enjoy spending time with my two children and two grandchildren. We live in Grand Prairie with our four rescue dogs, which can make the house quite lively!
Describe your background and what did you do before you started/joined the company?
Having joined the Army directly from high school, I made the decision to go to law school after my military service. I graduated from Baylor Law School in 1999 and assumed a role in private practice. Upon relocation to Dallas, I decided to transition into insurance and began my career at Travelers Insurance, serving as Senior Claims Counsel and eventually as a supervisor for the Southern, Midwest, and Southern California territories, handling management liability files. I made the transition to the independent agency side in 2015, joining RHSB.
Tell us about the inception of the company. How did it all start?
In Dallas, our founder, Richard Roach, sold his first insurance policy in 1955 and founded his firm. Soon after, he was joined by Leroy Howard, Max Smith, and Archie Hunter. In 1972, the firm name became Roach Howard Smith & Hunter, Inc. In Fort Worth, L.T. Barton Insurance was founded in 1945 and became one of the most respected agencies in its region. Mr. Barton’s success was based on personalized service and professional expertise that continuously exceeded client expectations. The two firms merged in 1998 and incorporated under the name Roach Howard Smith & Barton, Inc. in 2006, and RHSB remains relentlessly focused on our founders’ client-centric philosophy and has enjoyed success because of it.
What has made you successful? What do you value?
As far as success in leadership, I firmly believe you must be passionate about the health and well-being of your staff, listen closely to their career goals and aspirations, and provide a solid foundation for your staff to be successful. Additionally, as leaders, it may be easy to point to an organizational chart and say “do it, because I said so.” In order to be truly successful, I believe it is imperative that people understand the “why” behind a process or procedure. By doing a certain task, what is the contribution to the agency, and what is the impact? I work in a very transparent organization that does its best to manage through servant leadership, and it’s one of the most attractive parts of my current role.
Which are the major services of the company and how do the company to get ahead in the competition? What value-added services does the company provide?
Roach Howard Smith & Barton is a full-service independent insurance agency with a focus on commercial and personal lines insurance, as well as employee benefits.
We employ a consultative approach to risk mitigation with our clients and strive to guide them to help ensure the best possible solutions for their individualized needs. Our collaborative method and focus on our target markets are what sets the firm apart from other agencies. We value long-term, collaborative partnerships with our clients and, as a result, have many accounts that have been with the agency for over twenty years. It is our relentless focus on customer service that allows us to enjoy such long-term and stable relationships with our clients.
RHSB (Roach Howard Smith & Barton) is the result of a merger of two agencies finding great commonality in service philosophies, and complementary strengths in product offerings and industry knowledge. Our firm’s rich experience and client-centric focus have catapulted us to become a leading independent insurance brokerage firm in the country, as well as the North Texas area’s only Assurex Global partner.
What are the most important aspects of a company’s culture? What principles do you believe in and how do you build this culture?
Culture is very important in delivering outstanding customer service, and we measure our success by ensuring every level of employee fully embraces our core values of being engaged, team players, solution-oriented, forward-thinking, and trustworthy. We believe if our organization is filled with those who display these characteristics, we will enjoy continued success.
What are your responsibilities as the Principal/CEO/President of the company? What is the happiest part of your daily routine?
At RHSB, I serve as the Chief Operating Officer and head of the Risk Services department. The ability to positively impact the agency and external customers is one of the things I value most. I think one of the most beneficial things I have done to achieve success is not being afraid to ask for opportunities, whether that be a new role, project, or exposure to aspects of the organization I would not normally have. I have identified roles and tasks I enjoy and asked for exposure to learn those aspects of the business, which has consistently positioned me to be prepared to assume the next step in my career.
Each day brings new challenges, whether it is attending a Board of Directors meeting, discussing complicated claims issues, providing guidance to staff, or resolving an IT issue. Every day is different. Serving in a position that supports the entire agency is both exciting and daunting at times. Functionally, I supervise the department heads of our multiple profit centers and provide guidance and direction on everything from company initiatives to budgeting to data reporting and process and procedure development and implementation. The best part of my day is when I have the opportunity to positively impact an outcome, whether for an employee or customer. The nature of this business is problem solving, and seeing your efforts positively impact others is a truly great feeling.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
As far as advice I would give someone going into leadership for the first time, it would be that trust, above anything else, will serve you well. Employees must trust you to have their best interests at heart. They must know you will listen when there is a problem. They must trust your investment in not only the firm’s success but their individual success as well.
Finally, I would advise you that you will always be more successful if you talk less and listen more. As a leader, listening to the needs of your employees and customers is paramount. I am extremely fortunate to work for the firm and have never worked with a group that had more integrity, compassion, leadership, and customer focus. RHSB has a bright future, and I am truly excited to see what comes next!
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