AABP Award 728x90

Business Basics


Best Life Insurance Provider

Principal Financial Group Inc.

Once again, the readers chose Central Iowa’s biggest corporate employer as the best provider of life insurance. Principal Financial Group Inc. has been in the insurance business for 125 years and has grown into the state’s most valuable company in terms of market valuation. It’s also the largest manager of 401(k) retirement plans in the United States.

The company takes pride in its “first-call resolution” program, in which employees are trained to solve a customer’s problem as completely as possible over the phone, without transferring the call to different workers at the company.

This honor was one of several won by Principal in the 2004 readers poll.

RUNNERS-UP: American Family Insurance; Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co.

Best casualty insurance provider

Allied Insurance

Established in Iowa in 1929, Allied Insurance is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The 2,500 employees at its Des Moines headquarters can also celebrate that Business Record readers have named the company Des Moines’ best casualty insurance provider.

“We are honored at Allied Insurance to have been named ‘Best Casualty Insurance Provider’ by the readers of the Business Record,” said Kirt Walker, the company’s president. “At Allied, we understand that our reputation as an industry and community leader is based on serving our customers with top-quality insurance coverage. But most of all, we value people — our agents, our policyholders and our associates.

This honor recognizes that we work with the best of all three.”

Most of Allied’s insurance business is generated in 27 Midwestern states through a network of independent and exclusive agents, and in some areas, through direct- response marketing. The company, which has been an affiliate of Nationwide Insurance since 1998, ranks among the top 100 multiline insurance groups in the country.

Allied has an “A+ Superior” rating from the leading insurance rating and reporting firm, A.M. Best Co., which reflects its solid operating performance and ability to meet ongoing obligations to policyholders.

Allied’s property and casualty subsidiaries include AMCO Insurance Co., Depositors Insurance Co., Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co., Nationwide Insurance Company of America, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Co. and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.

Runner-up: General Casualty Co.

Best place to buy office furniture

Storey-Kenworthy Inc.

With three locations in Greater Des Moines offering a diverse range of products, Storey-Kenworthy and its office furniture professionals are able to meet a wide variety of business needs, says the company’s president, Dave Kenworthy.

Kenworthy said businesses look to his company to help them meet their goals by making employees as productive as possible through comfortable, high-quality furniture.

A year ago Story-Kenworthy created a new division, Business Furniture Warehouse. The Urbandale store focuses on serving entry-level office furniture buyers who are looking for new or used value-priced furniture.

The move represented another step in Storey-Kenworthy’s continued expansion in Greater Des Moines. The company sells and markets office furniture made by HNI Corp., formerly HON Industries Inc., and its Allsteel unit. It also sells furniture and office products made by Steelcase through its WorkSpace Inc. subsidiary. Storey-Kenworthy’s flagship store in Des Moines is located at 1333 Ohio St. WorkSpace, a full-service office interiors dealership, is located at 309 Locust St.

Story-Kenworthy’s design staff helps customers plan every aspect of an office, from flooring to ceiling tiles to artwork. The company employs its own delivery and installation team to ensure that the products arrive safely and are properly integrated into a client’s business.

Runners-up: The Triplett Cos., Pigott Inc.

Best health insurance provider

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield

For the eighth year in a row, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield tops the Business Record’s annual poll for best health-care insurance provider.

“We are honored to receive this recognition,” said Wellmark Chairman and CEO John Forsyth. “We believe our comprehensive local and national provider networks, outstanding customer service, broad array of product choices, extensive agent and broker distribution systems, and user-friendly online capabilities help distinguish us.

“But most of all, it is our people. We are determined to increase health literacy for our members and to make Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield the easiest health plan to work with for individuals, families and employers.”

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield provides health insurance or administrative services to approximately 1.5 million Iowans.

“Our Decisions Count initiative to educate members, providers, employers and consumers about health care costs and what actions they can take to make a difference is unique. We believe the Blues deliver great value to our customers by offering broad choice and working closely with their physicians and hospitals.”

RUNNERS-UP: Coventry Health Care, State Farm Insurance.

Best Executive Search Firm

Palmer Group

Austin Palmer says strong relationships have enabled his company to come out ahead among executive search firms in Greater Des Moines.

“I think it’s a testimony to the fact that we have been able to forge nice relationships with not only outstanding candidates in the Des Moines and Central Iowa areas but also with some of the best companies in Des Moines,” said Palmer, founder and president of Palmer Group. “It kind of goes hand in hand. We’ve been lucky to have both.”

Palmer said the experience and focus of Palmer Group’s 22 staff members have also been a contributing factor to the five-year-old company’s success.

“It is indicative of the quality of the people that work here that have our clients’ and our candidates’ best interests at heart,” he said.

During the past year, the West Des Moines-based company has consolidated its original divisions to form Palmer Group to better provide search, staffing, information technology consulting and outplacement services.

Its areas of expertise are accounting and finance, information and technology, human resources, sales and marketing, office administration and engineering. Engineering is new this year.

“Our big change was the consolidation, subsequent to that our focus has been on providing quality service to the rest of our customers,” said Palmer.

RUNNERS-UP: Executive Resources Ltd., Thomas Hamilton & Associates

Best Temporary Employment Services

Manpower Inc.

After being named the Des Moines’ best temporary employment service for the ninth straight year, one might think the award has become old hat for Manpower Inc. But company president Mike Lynch says he could not be more thrilled.

“I think we’ve tried to put a lot of focus on our people from our temporary staff to the customer companies we work with,” Lynch said.

Manpower’s offices, located in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ames, Fort Dodge and Creston, mail out approximately 900 paychecks per week to its temporary employees while providing between 3,500 and 4,000 people each year with temporary placements. Though the company’s largest service is providing staffing for administrative and clerical positions, its temporary employees are also placed in accounting, mortgage, industrial, production and quality-control positions. Lynch said future expansion is still up in the air.

“On the one hand, we keep doing the same things, but by the same token there have been some changes as far as our reliance on online capabilities,” Lynch said, referring to online recruiting and communication. He added that new systems to be implemented later this month will enable Manpower to improve functions such as billing.

RUNNERS-UP: Kelly Services Inc., Palmer Group

Best Business Consulting Firm

Business Performance Group Inc.

After four years in business, Business Performance Group Inc. is achieving the goals it set out to accomplish, and in the process, it has become the Best of Des Moines.

Business Performance Group, located at 8345 University Blvd. in Clive, uses a business-model-centered approach to help its clients increase their revenue, using video-based training programs and consulting and training services.

“Our solutions are practical rather than theoretical and we also focus on implementations and measurement,” said Susan Anderson, company vice president. “We’ve had some clients tell us that’s what makes us stand out.”

What started out as a staff of four people has grown to a workforce of 14 under the leadership of owner John Dieseth. Business Performance Group recently went to print with its own sales materials for telephone sales, customer service and field sales.

“We have been conducting public and onsite courses, but to put it into print and into a format that any trainer can facilitate is a big project,” Anderson said.

The company has been working on the sales materials for approximately two years, and will now be introducing it to the market.

“We really feel like sales is an area where there’s not a lot of material available,” Anderson added.

RUNNERS-UP: Capital Management Associates Inc., RSM McGladrey

Best Place to Buy Office Supplies

The Triplett Cos.

With 30 years of experience in the office supply industry, the Triplett family says their focus on competitive pricing and customer service keeps them ahead in a market dominated by large national office supply store chains.

“We’re focused on our customers and getting them what they need when they need it at a competitive price,” said Tim Triplett, vice president of The Triplett Cos., which was named the best place to buy office supplies in Des Moines.

Triplett’s father, Dick, started the company in 1973, which now employs Triplett’s brother, Tom, also a vice president, and mother, Sue, the company secretary. The company’s headquarters complex in Urbandale includes an office furniture showroom, Office Furniture USA, and has a payroll of 45 people. A Dubuque office has also been added.

Triplett said the company’s technological capabilities surpass those of its competitors and its convenient online ordering site generates 40 to 50 percent of the company’s orders. He said the product offerings are very extensive, with the capability of providing entire office supply systems to clients.

But Triplett added that his employees’ attentiveness to customers’ needs makes the difference.

“We have customer service reps that are closer to experts that what you’d find elsewhere,” he said. “We’re more reliable. If we say we’re going to be there, we are.”

RUNNERS-UP: Storey-Kenworthy Inc., Koch Bros.

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