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By Jake Kilroy

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I have long been in contact with Krista Farmer,a public relations rep for HometownQuotes.

Some weeks ago, she made a comment about being "blessed" to work where she did. She added that her bosses, Bob and Hunter, had created the perfect working environment, with an open-door policy and babies in the workplace (lucky).

Now, there are plenty of bosses across America that treat their co-workers like friends and they get the best out of them.There's always a fair percentage of good bosses vs. bad bosses. And then I thought, so why not reward good behavior?

So I asked Bob and Hunter some...IMPORTANT QUESTIONS!

NAME: Hunter Ingram (30), Bob Klee (49)
COMPANY: HometownQuotes, an insurance quoting company
HEADQUARTERS: Franklin, Tenn.

BK: "Thank You" by Ray Boltz
HI: "Round Here" by Counting Crows

1.Which celebrity of the 20th Century do you think should be considered agreat American philosopher? My choice is Groucho Marx.
BK: Bob Hope.

2. What is the most accurate occasion to wear a top hat these days?
HI: Halloween.
BK: Lincoln's birthday.

3. What's your favorite way to spend a rainy Saturday?
HI: Hanging out with my wife.
BK: Shopping with my wife.

4. Why do I want to fall asleep every time I hear the word "insurance?"
BK: Insurance may seem dull, until you realize how much it helps people. My favorite part of being an insurance agent was learning about my customers and their families. Many of them weren't just customers, they were also friends.
HI: Because to most, it is boring...until you need it.

The 27 Word Question
For some insane reason, some were comparing the recent love for Twilight to the love for Harry Potter. Choose one book series as the superior choice and defend it in exactly 27 words (no more, no less).
BK: I haven't read either book series, but my son is a huge Harry Potter fan. Twilight is targeted more toward teenagers. Harry Potter has more adult fans.
HI: I'm going with Harry Potter. Harry Potter appeals to a much broader audience than Twilight. J.K. Rowling does a bang-up job of painting pictures with words.

The Beatles Question
Who was your favorite Beatle? Why?
BK: Paul McCartney. He was a great front man.
HI: Don't really have one, but if I had to pick, I would pick Ringo. With a name like Ringo, you have to be cool.

1. An employee of yours speaks very highly of your comfortable work environment, where workers can approach either of you regarding work issues or life situations. How do you remain authoritative as well as approachable as a leader? How do you keep the balance?
I think what makes us approachable is that we just genuinely care about our people. If we see a need, we do what we can to take care of it. We also hold everyone accountable for being honest with us. If someone is frustrated with a situation or policy, we expect them to talk to us about it. We believe in addressing small issues before they become larger ones.

2. How far does HometownQuotes work? As a theme of your business is to provide local help, how does the business keep to its roots as it grows? What is the next step in expanding?
Our company operates nationally. We partner with insurance agents and companies across the country to help consumers compare insurance quotes and, hopefully, secure a better insurance rate and/or more desirable benefits. The more we grow, the more "grassroots" we become - more insurance agents talk about us and more consumers can compare a better variety of insurance options. Our next step in expanding is actually taking place right now...but it's top secret.

3. How does an entrepreneur break in to the insurance business?
BK: Either find a partner with experience in the insurance field or get experience by becoming an agent or working for an agent. On the front end, the insurance learning curve is pretty steep. We have competitors in our "space" with no insurance background. That is the competitive difference that Hunter and I bring to the table. We were frustrated agents using, what we perceived to be, a broken system. While we didn't invent the internet space in which we're competing, we believe our background helped us see a problem and improve on it. That's why we've been successful in the insurance space on the internet.

4. According to your website, you are allowed to have babies in the workplace, as a way of helping employed parents. What are some other benefits you've been able to provide? Do you feel that benefits are directly related to job performance? What is the philosophy there?
HI: Yes, the babies at work program has been great. It's beneficial for us because we're not spending money on temporary workers or replacements. It's helpful for parents because they're not worrying about the costs or worry associated with childcare. We also offer flexible hours, paid vacation day for employee birthday, monthly potluck lunch, a learning library and some benefits. I believe the more we can provide for our employees, the happier and more productive they will be. We plan to offer more benefits as we continue to grow.

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