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An Interview with Griffin Barkley

Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Griffin Barkley, President of Barkley Risk Management & Insurance, can attest to his genuine character and profound passion for honest business practices. He is simply of the breed that our grandparents would have called, “good people” – and it shows. Barkley has been working with companies up and down coastal California to build internal risk-reduction programs for the last two decades. Their cutting-edge method for risk management and their empowering approach to employee culture has been revolutionizing the insurance industry. Read on to find out what the future looks like for this visionary company and what exciting new announcements they have in store for us.

So Griffin, what led you to Barkley?

I was invited to join Barkley by my father, following an extensive career in sales. That was 18 years ago and now here we are today. What has always excited me about Barkley is getting to know people personally and working with clients on an advisory level to help them navigate and protect their assets; it’s a wonderful business to be a part of.

When we started, our primary focus was agriculture – working with growers, packers, and shippers of produce. We have since expanded our services into many other industries including manufacturing, hospitality, aerospace, and entertainment. Yes, we have grown and diversified, but we have never lost sight of our core business model. At Barkley, we dive in and get to know the client on an intimate level, from their employees to their policies, to procedures they might have in place, or their facilities. We continue to focus on taking a Risk Management approach for all businesses – a method which transcends all industries.

What do you love most about your job? Where do you get your inspiration?

I am inspired by having inspired employees. Everyone is truly motivated and excited to provide value and help our clients solve their problems.

It all starts with cultivating our team and creating a great work environment. A happy team means that our clients will be well-served and that’s the ultimate goal – to provide great service and a relationship where our clients trust us to do what’s best for them.

What are some recent highlights and accomplishments within Barkley you can share?

We are so honored to have been recognized for the second year in a row as one of the Best Places to Work in the Tri-County area; a title voted on by employees. We also continue to be recognized as a top regional brokerage firm within the industries we serve, based on the quality of products and services we provide.

As a growing company, we continue to innovate not only as far as products and services, but internally as well. We have some really exciting internal initiatives in progress at the moment.

What are some things you will be rolling out soon?

Right now, we are working on what will actually be the third iteration of our brand.  Brands need to continually grow and evolve. As we have grown as a firm and diversified as a company, it has become important to capture that in our branding. Recently, we have spent a lot of time and energy on creating a fresh look that reflects our company, mission, and values. We are rolling out a new logo, a new website, and even better collateral for our clients – proposals, timelines, stewardship reports – it’s something that has taken a lot of hard work to perfect and we are extremely excited about it. Additionally, we are continuing to develop our Academy of Risk Management Seminar Series to continue to educate and grow leaders.

Lastly, stay tuned because we are looking at moving to a new location and collaborative workspace within a year to keep up with our growth!

You’ve been doing a lot of work within the community; tell us about that.

We started the Barkley Cares program and it’s something that we all participate in as a team. We volunteer for different organizations in Ventura County doing everything from sorting food, feeding the homeless or helping to clean up botanical gardens. We try to give back as much as possible and we will continue to donate our time, energy and money to important causes. It’s the DNA of our company and we are very proud to be actively involved in the community.

What industry insights and advice would you like to share about the future of Risk Management?

I recognize how difficult it is to manage all the outside elements of being a business owner like compliance, employee issues, getting labor – there are so many outside elements putting pressure on the business itself. Because of this, it has never been more important to focus on how you manage the risk in your organization. The most successful companies we see are spending time developing a positive company culture, focusing on safety, spending time on providing great benefits for their employees…these things ultimately keep their organization healthier and safer. If you were to ask me, what would create a successful program or company I would say to focus heavily on the culture.

A real-life example of this is apparent within our Adopt a Crew Program. This is a program in which Barkley partners up with an agricultural company and its employees in order to teach them how to cultivate a better culture. This includes improving internal communication between employees, creating a company motto, creating a tagline, and motivating employees to take real ownership in making sure their company is functioning safely and effectively.

We were seeing some challenges in the agricultural space and noticing an increase in workers compensation claims. One specific company we were working with had 40 claims per year in just one crew. We utilized our Adopt a Crew Program to work closely on location with their employees to make sure that the company and its employees knew safety was their #1 priority. The results were phenomenal and really speak to what we are trying to accomplish from a risk management standpoint: since we implemented the program, that company has had zero workers compensation claims! We could see that there was a lot of new energy within the group that didn’t exist before and the program had brought so much intrinsic value that couldn’t even be qualified. We just saw positivity spreading throughout the entire organization.

This is an exciting time for Barkley. As we evolve and diversify, we will continue to innovate for our clients and employees, growing our services, improving our products, and constantly strengthening our company culture.