GREELEY – They were two regular guys who loved people and wanted to do their best to provide them with the finest insurance coverage available.
And although both men have passed on, B.D. “Pete” Peterson and J. Barney Flood, founders of Greeley-based Flood and Peterson Insurance, are the recipients of the Northern Colorado Business Report’s 2006 Bravo! Award for Lifetime Achievement because their legacy lives on in a thriving insurance business.
Flood and Peterson were Colorado natives and lifelong friends, attending school together and later working together at a downtown Greeley drugstore. In 1939, the two pooled $100 and started a business that would eventually become one of Colorado’s largest independent insurance agencies.
“Barney hired me back in 1977,” recalled Rick Jenkins, an executive vice president and one of seven partners in the agency. By that time, Jenkins said, the founders had sold the business but both kept a hand in it.
“Both still came in some,” Jenkins said. “That was part of the sale, that they’d stay involved for some time.”
After all, it was their baby, something they’d nurtured into life in a one-room office with a shared desk and chair and a borrowed typewriter. Their first cash register was an old cigar box. When World War II came a few years later, both men served, leaving the business in the care of trusted staffers.
After the war against Japan and Germany was over, they returned to the business. But they held no grudges, Jenkins said.
“They were one of the few insurance agencies after WWII that would do business with (Japanese-Americans), and we still to this day have a number of Japanese-American clients, especially in agriculture,” he said.
The two men gravitated toward their own specialties, Jenkins noted. “Barney was the insurance person. Pete was more the bond person and very heavily involved in the Colorado road construction industry,” he said.
Both had a playful spirit and kept a running joke through the years about who lent $50 to the other and was never paid back, Jenkins said. But it was Peterson who truly lit up around people.
“Pete was more the relationship guy,” he said. “I don’t think Pete ever met a stranger. He was always in a good mood and never had a bad word to say about anyone.”
Over the years, Flood and Peterson Insurance grew to employ more than 120 in offices in Greeley, Eaton, Denver and Fort Collins. The company today is the largest property and casualty agency in Northern Colorado.
Pete Peterson died in May of this year at the age of 90 and Barney Flood passed away in 1989.
Jenkins said the two company founders set a tone that continues to inspire its owners and employees.
“These guys were relationship builders, and that’s how we’ve done business ever since,” he said. “They believed in doing business with integrity and they taught that to us but it all started with them.”