Integrity Marketing Group has been innovating insurance since 2006, when it was a startup in its CEO’s Highland Village home. Now it’s bucking the suburban office trend—by moving hundreds of employees from Coppell to downtown Dallas. Its six floors in I.M. Pei’s iconic Fountain Place tower make the firm one of the largest recent additions to downtown. The fast-growing company plans to keep expanding in its “vertical campus” floor by floor for years to come.
Integrity has grown aggressively recently—mostly from acquisitions—swelling from 1,700 to 5,500 employees just since the start of 2021. The firm made 40 acquisitions in 2020 alone. As one of America’s largest independent distributors of life and health insurance products, Integrity works through more than 370,000 agents nationwide, and expects to help insurance carriers place over $7 billion in new sales in 2021.
Integrity has already occupied three floors of the renovated Fountain Place. When the firm’s other three floors are ready next spring, it will have moved a total of 300 to 400 employees from Cypress Waters in Coppell to its new “shared service center” downtown.
Bryan Adams, Integrity’s co-founder and CEO, spoke with Dallas Innovates about his company’s move, why it’s “going big” with office, and what’s next in insurtech. (And since everybody asks, no, Adams isn’t related to the rock star or to the East Dallas high school’s namesake.)
Choosing a “rocket ship”
Integrity had to move. It had grown so much so fast—more than 100% in 2020, and on track to do that again in 2021—that its Cypress Waters campus no longer fit. The company searched “all over the Metroplex” for options but kept coming back to Downtown Dallas and a building that looked like home.
“We think of ourselves as a rocket ship ready to take off,” Adams told us, “and this building also kind of looks like a rocket ship.”
I.M. Pei’s 58-story, modernist Fountain Place tower—one of five Downtown Dallas buildings by the architect, including Dallas City Hall—does indeed loom above Ross Avenue with intense verticality.
Other inducements: a $75 million renovation of Fountain Place by its owner, Goddard Investment Group; new amenities to entice employees; having all the infrastructure and systems in place; and the fact that the building has one of downtown’s lowest occupancy rates, which helped make the move “pretty attractive economically.”
Steven Sigrist, Integrity’s CFO, says the talent pool near downtown was another deciding factor. “Having our headquarters in the heart of where highly talented experts live, work, and play will be a differentiator for us to recruit and retain the best and brightest talent,” he said in a statement.
“This move comes at a time when many companies are evaluating the needs and wants of their employees and their business plan,” added Quito Anderson, CIO for Goddard, in the statement. “This bellwether move further entrenches the understanding that the downtown Arts District is a very special place to work. You can’t replicate a building or environment like this in today’s world, let alone in suburbia.”
CBRE’s Josh White and Ryan Buchanan represented Integrity in the leasing transaction; CBRE’s Fletcher Cordell, Dennis Barnes, and Jackie Marshall represented Goddard.
An Arts District “oasis” with a $75M makeover
With its outdoor fountains and “spectacular” lobby, Adams sees Fountain Place as “a bit of an oasis.”
“We’re in the Arts District, so it’s got a lot of great pieces of art,” he said. “The renovations they’ve made with the health and fitness center and other things are great for our employees. Everybody is just thrilled to be here.”
Goddard’s $75 million makeover includes a new 10-story parking garage, retail and restaurant space, and a tenant lounge and conference center. According to a statement, the redesign “completes Pei’s original vision for the project by opening the lobby to the outside plaza and namesake fountains designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley.” Fountain Place shares the plaza with AMLI Fountain Place, a 45-story luxury residential tower that opened last fall.
Corgan designs a “collaborative” vertical campus
Integrity hired the Corgan architectural firm to design a custom, “culture-expanding space” ideal for Integrity’s growth. The customizations include interconnected staircases to facilitate flow and an employee café and lounge “where we eat, celebrate, and congregate together,” Adams said.
From furniture choices to architectural design, Integrity is taking all it has learned through the pandemic to ensure it has “not only a great work environment but a very safe one.”
The company is observing COVID protocols like temperature checks, and encouraging but not requiring employees to be vaccinated—even offering paid time off to do so.
Embracing the office
Why go big with office now, when some companies are rethinking it?
“Integrity is a business powered by people,” Adams told us. “We believe that people work and serve best being together. Businesses such as ours will really thrive with the creativity and collaboration that being together provides.”
Adams noted that his company’s 5,500 employees work in offices nationwide, and his Dallas shared service center supports them all. “We just feel like it’s better accomplished being in person together.”
Buying investment at scale
Integrity employees might not be lingering in their new fitness center, because there’s a lot to do. As the company’s shared service center, the Dallas office serves all 5,500 employees across the U.S., from technology needs to HR, marketing, compliance, and more.
“Part of that is buying investment at scale,” Adams told us. “As we bring on new partners we can take over some of the back office work from them so that they can grow faster.”
Growth seems to be in Integrity’s DNA: the company’s rapid expansion is partly due to organic growth, but its 40 acquisitions last year really helped it take off—with more continuing into 2021.
“Integrity is structured as a partnership,” Adams explained. “As we acquire a firm, we will value the business. The seller will take a portion of their proceeds in cash and a portion in Integrity stock. Then we’re able to all work together to grow even faster organically.”
A $7 billion “people business”
All this growth has a goal in mind, Adams says: being a “people business.” Integrity’s 370,000 agents service eight million clients and will generate over $7 billion in sales this year.
As an independent distributor of life and health insurance products, Integrity works with 450 different insurance carriers.
Integrity serves nine million customers on an annual basis “to make sure that they have the right products and the right services, and that they get the most out of their products.”
When one of their 370,00 agents meets with a life, health, or wellness consumer, “we can give them the best options that meet their individualized needs at the best affordable rate possible,” Adams said. “This is a people business, and we are making customers for life.”
Providing insurtech tools
Recent acquisitions have shored up Integrity’s insurtech offerings. The company acquired CSG Actuarial in January to take advantage of its insurance quoting enrollment tool. In April it acquired Deft Research, a data analytics company that helps Integrity work with carriers to ensure it’s reviewing and understanding customers’ needs properly. That can lead to product development that Integrity provides directly for carriers.
“We can quote and enroll customers in a product in nanoseconds,” Adams said. The company’s proprietary technology allows its sales force to use an iPhone or computer to quote and enroll directly through Integrity’s systems in real time, making sure that people get the best products available.
“We have five million customer interactions a year to make sure they have the right doctor network, they understand the prescription drug benefits, and all the different pieces they need to make sure that they get the most out of their healthcare journeys,” Adams said.
Celebrating diversity and inclusion
Another thing that makes Integrity a people business: its embrace of DEI. “We’re a very diverse organization,” Adam told us. “We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that our workplaces not only appreciate but celebrate diversity and inclusion. This week we’re kicking off our first Women in Leadership series. Over 60 percent of our employees are female. Almost half of the executive team here is female. It’s one of the things we celebrate in a huge way.”
It all began in Adams’ home
When Adams got married in 2008, his wife Robyn moved into his Highland Village home—where six people were working daily shifts. He’d founded the company out of his home in 2006, so Robyn knew what to expect. She was understanding, but only up to a point.
“We had cubicles and stickers with people working there,” Adams recalls with a laugh. “My wife was patient for about a year and then finally encouraged me to get an office.”
That first office he moved into? Needless to say it wasn’t designed by I.M. Pei. But Adams has been growing Integrity ever since—and has no plans to stop now.
“It’s kind of ironic that we’ve been able to accomplish what we’ve done,” Adams says. “But it’s really been a story of being here to serve others, and looking at ways we can grow and serve more people.”
This story was updated on June 17, 2021, with information about Integrity’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
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