jim-mckinley_web.jpgMcKinley Financial Services, one of the nation's largest minority-owned firms, recently received the 2008 South Florida Good to Great Award from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

“It's always a pleasure to receive such an honor,” said Jim McKinley, the company’s president and founder, who started the firm by himself after moving to Fort Lauderdale in 1987.
“This is a tribute to my staff and my company as a whole.”

The chamber's award program honors South Florida companies that embody ideas from the best-selling business book Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and
Others Don't
, written by business consultant and author Jim Collins. The awards were given out at a luncheon last month at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. 

Each business was judged on the ability to demonstrate a pattern of great performance over a four-year period and develop a strong leadership team.

McKinley said the success of his company can be attributed to his staff of 48 employees. 

“I'm fortunate to work with some outstanding individuals,” he said. “If you can attribute anything to me, it's my ability to recognize and recruit the right people to join me.”

McKinley Financial Services offers myriad insurance and financial services, including individual life and health insurance, pension plans, group benefits, commercial property and casualty and consulting services.

The Fort Lauderdale-based firm's client list includes Broward County government, the Broward County School Board, the Broward Partnership for the Homeless, the Broward Sheriff's Office and Miami Dade College.

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Carlton Moore serves as the firm's vice president of consulting services. The firm is licensed to provide insurance in 30 states.

McKinley founded the firm after a 22-year career as a college and professional football coach. He has coached teams at the University of Missouri, North Carolina Agricultural and
Technical State University, Eastern Michigan University and the United States Football League's Oklahama Outlaws. During his coaching career, he sold life insurance as a part-time gig. 

Armed with that experience, he was ready to jump into his next career after retiring from football coaching.

“I knew that the day I got out of coaching, I would get into insurance,” said McKinley, who has a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Michigan University and a Master of Education degree from Eastern Michigan University.

He said part of his firm's success is due to his frugal spending during the business’ early years.

“I didn't take money out of the company for the first seven years,” McKinley said. “In the beginning, I was living on a $35,000 a year salary. I was always looking to expand.”

Last year, the firm grossed over $120 million in sales, according to its website. The company says it furnishes insurance products to more than 300,000 individuals, and provides coverage on properties valued at over $4.5 billion.

McKinley said he's most proud of the foundation he started in 1988 called McKinley Financial Foundation, Inc., which has given out 81 college scholarships to local students and donated about $400,000 to charitable funds, community organizations, and youth development programs.

“Of all the things I've accomplished,” he said. “That's what I'm most proud of.”

Photo: Jim McKinley