I'm a numbers guy by trade. I would much rather build you an excel table then type out a blog post. However, there are some things that are hard to express in numbers, so here I go.
I have a variety of skills and experiences that have led me to start Summit Path Group. They are going to seem pretty diverse - and they are - but you'll see how they converge into giving me the ability to help employers and employees find the best health benefits they can, and for the lowest price.
My story goes way back, all the way to a sheep farm in a very small town in central Utah. I am a farm boy at heart and it shows in my work ethic. Relationships are big for me as well. In a small town you have to figure out how to get along with folks as you will probably be living next to them for the rest of your life.
I studied International Finance for my undergrad and was able to serve a mission for the LDS church in Brazil for 2 years. After graduating I married my sweetheart and we took off to conquer the world. I worked for a publicly traded company called Griffin in their subsidiary named Clopay. I started as an accountant in Michigan and later moved to Cincinnati as a Financial Analyst. Then I had the wonderful opportunity of returning to Brazil for 5 years as a Finance Director of one of Clopay's factories. I love talking about Brazil so ask me about it sometime and I'll tell you all about it.
In 2009, my wife and I decided that we were ready to come home with our then 3 boys and we were lucky to find an amazing company named CFSS. We packed up our bags thinking that we had already lived in the hottest place in the world, and moved to.....Arizona, the TRULY hottest place in the world. We have fallen in love with AZ now and plan on staying here forever.
Soon after I started working for CFSS, the HR director decided to leave. The executive team decided that finance and HR were so closely related that I should be the CHRO of CFSS......You can fill in the blank about that.
We had about 200 employees at the time and I didn't know anything about HR. So I dove head in and first got certified as a PHR. Later on I received my SHRM-SCP. I have enjoyed attending many SHRM events over the last 8 years and really enjoyed diving into HR and understanding how it works. In the end there really are more similarities to HR and Finance then both sides will admit.
During the past 8 years, I also completed my MBA at Arizona State and passed the CPA exam last year. Both of these have been a life long dream of mine and have contributed greatly to my knowledge and skillset as a CFO.
As you can imagine, things have been busy the last few years. Our family has continued to grow. My wife and I are the proud parents of 6 boys and now a little princess. And with so many boys, yes, we are regulars of the healthcare system. We're on first name basis with the orthopedic surgeons and joke about having a discount punch card with our doctors.
During this time, I also had the desire to help out other small business owners. So I started a company called Amzil International (which later became Summit Path Group). Amzil did small business consulting for companies that were too small for a full-time CFO but needed help. I met many wonderful business owners and was able to act as an interim CFO for an ENT practice, a billing company, an insurance broker, non profits, and many more.
So you're probably wondering how all of this ties into health insurance. Over the past 10 years, I have been purchasing health insurance for all of the companies that I have been acting as CFO. There really is no course out there that teaches you how health insurance works. Everything that we know as HR or Finance professionals comes from someone paid to sell us the insurance. Luckily I found some really good partners that wanted to change the system. We learned together about unbundling plans as well as the highs and lows of claims. I will get into more of this in a later blog post.
Two things culminated in 2017 for me that lead me to pivot Amzil from financial to healthcare consulting. I read a book by Dave Chase called "CEO's Guide to Restoring the American Dream." I think it should be mandatory reading for anyone buying health insurance for employees. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of how other professionals were purchasing health insurance. I bought a bunch of his books, so just let me know if you want one and I'll send you a copy.
About the same time I read in the news that Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and Jamie Dimon were bucking the status quo and building their own healthcare ecosystem. They didn't even announce beforehand what they were going to do and it sent healthcare stocks ablaze.
I'm no Buffet or Bezos, nor do I have the scale of JP Morgan Chase. But it got me thinking. What are my peers doing? I'd never sat down and compared how I bought health insurance with other CFOs and HR Professionals. I also started interviewing all the brokers that I could find. I wanted to know what were the best plans out there and where I was in the mix.
What I found was amazing from various angles. I found companies that were ahead of me in the way they purchased health benefits. I soaked up everything that I could learn from them. It made me think about how we shoot ourselves in the foot by not reaching out more to non-competing companies. Why do I care if the hotel across the street knows my competitive advantage - or vice versa?
But I also met with a lot of companies that were just amazed with the plan that I had in place. They were getting 3-5% increases every year while my plan was going down each year. For many, if they used a similar plan they would save 10-20% off their plan - equating to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. They wanted to know why and how I could help them do the same. I also interviewed a lot of brokers. Some knew what they were doing, but there were also a lot of brokers that were hired to be sales reps and had no experience or skill sets to actually build a health plan - only sell a product.
So that brings me to this summer. I decided to close down my accounting consulting work and focus on helping companies find and negotiate health benefits for their employees. There is just too much value there for me not to help. It's to the point that I don't sleep well knowing that if I could just help my peers, that they would be able to buy better benefits for their employees, or to give them and their employees back their hard earned money, versus sending more and more of it off to a broken healthcare system.
So my plan is to help in different forms. First I'm going to try and create as much content on this website as I can to help. I am also working on creating a weekly conference call that we can work together on each of our renewals. It's hard enough trying to deal with prices going up each year. And it's time for us to help one another.
I'm also going to do some one-on-one consulting with a few companies that want me to work with their brokers or help them find new ones. And finally, I am in process of setting up my own firm so if someone wants to skip the broker and have me help them negotiate directly with the carriers I can. This last part is going to take a while to setup, but I'm excited to peek behind the curtain and let you all know how things work. It will help you negotiate so much better.
So let's make our renewals great in 2019 by working together. Feel free to follow me on Linked-In and this blog. You can connect with me by sending in a request, or scheduling a call with me on my home page. I promise you that it will be worth your time.
So that's me. In the end, I'm just a guy, trying to take on the system and make a small difference. Leave a comment and share and let's enjoy this journey together!