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Five Questions: Jay Hickman

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People who own six businesses are not typically looking for jobs. Jay Hickman, however, is unique. After efforts to reduce his workload as a co-owner of Parlor 88 Lounge and Ernie Biggs Piano Bar paid off, and he relinquished his ties to Einstein Bagels, Hickman has taken on a somewhat unexpected new career: insurance producer. A longtime business partner of Paul Sundy, Hickman believes the connections he’s established as a restaurateur make him well-equipped to supply the insurance products that people like him need.

Q: How did your decision to join Connell Insurance coincide with your separation from Einstein Bagels?
A: Paul Sundy and I both were still involved with Einstein Bagels until Jan. 1. We started working on those in September 2009, so for about 16 months that seems like that was all we did. We got a store opened here, and we got a store opened in Chicago. As of Jan. 1, we brought in a managing company to run the stores for the investors. That’s when I started finding that I had a lot of free time.

Q: Which businesses do you still have a stake in, and what is the scope of your involvement?
A: I currently have my four Ernie Biggs and two Parlor 88s. The Ernie Biggs are located in Little Rock, Ark., Branson, Springfield and Kansas City. The Parlor 88s are on East Sunshine and Republic Road. We set those up, both the Ernie Biggs and the Parlor 88s, under a management company after we had multiple locations. If people have asked who I work for, I would say EB Management Co. or JP Management Co. About five years ago, some old partners of ours taught us how to do that. I used to be in the stores every single night, every single day and on weekends.

Q: Why insurance?
A: I started thinking, ‘What can I do to grow and extend the relationships that I’ve made during the last eight years?’ One of my buddies is Chad Connell of Connell Insurance in Hollister. He has written all of my insurance for years. I started talking to him, and we both thought that would be a good fit. Right now, I’m studying and going through a pretty rigorous training course.

Q: What is going to be your area of focus for Connell?
A: Companies like Parlor 88 need liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, liquor liability, and that group (falls under) property and casualty insurance. That’s what I’ll be focusing on. I’m going to start with old partners and my inner circle of friends, some of which own businesses.

Q: How will you manage both your budding insurance career and your businesses?
A: There are going to be days, weeks or hours where I need to focus on business and run to Kansas City, and that’s the beauty of the gig. I can put 25 hours in on insurance one week, and then I can put 80 hours in the next week. Being a producer, you’re not tied to 50 hours a week as long as you’re producing results. So, I’ll be working a few days a week out of Branson, and a few days I’ll be working out of my office here.[[In-content Ad]]

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