When Omaha National Group, Inc. established itself in August 2016, the workers’ compensation, insurance and payroll services provider employed eight people. Fast-forward to this winter when Omaha National hired its 200th employee, and that is just one of many chapters within the organization’s growth story.
“We’re very excited to be moving into our new location at 90th and West Dodge,” President and CEO Reagan Pufall said. “It’s a great move for us. It doubles the size of our office space — we have run out of room where we are.”
From its location at 11128 John Galt Boulevard (the Metropolitan Business Center), Omaha National has reportedly grown to support small- to mid-sized employers and their workforces in 15 states, across the country.
Its local physical footprint is represented by the aforementioned shift from around 25,000 square feet of space to around 50,000 square feet along the high-traffic West Dodge Road corridor.
“It’s great to be in a big location in the heart of Omaha,” Pufall said. “The whole company will be on the same floor of the same building.”
According to Omaha National information, the team is poised to move to its new and larger local headquarters sometime this spring. Pufall emphasized the thought that was put into the space. It’s not just about the extra square footage; it’s the quality of said square footage.
“We want it to be a terrific working environment,” he said. “Our employees enjoy a sense of privacy … and that promotes interactive collaboration.”
The company has been no stranger to accommodating the changes that are presented by ongoing demand for its services and, in turn, for new talent; reportedly, a more than 50% increase in staff in 2019 also resulted in Omaha National doubling its office space.
“The strategy of the company is in the name — Omaha National,” Pufall remarked. “As far as we can see into the future, all of our employees will be in a single location in Omaha.
“We just keep on growing and, therefore, we keep hiring. The talent pool in Omaha is exceptional. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my career, the character of the talent.”
The state’s persistently low unemployment rate presents a “good problem to have,” which Pufall indicated Omaha National is addressing with one of its founders who comes from the professional recruiting world.
Additionally, Pufall noted it has another big advantage amid challenging recruiting circumstances; it doesn’t require previous worker’s comp experience.
“We’d just as soon hire people who have an aptitude for a specific job,” he said, adding that it has also built an extensive in-house training program.
By and large, he said that this approach to recruiting is more the exception than the rule within the industry.
“The strategies, tactics and methods that we use are unique, often unconventional and extremely successful,” he said. “We ‘train them up’ to our way of thinking and our approach.”
It’s an approach that, Pufall indicated, also lends itself well to diverse skillsets and a diverse workforce.
“There are so many different kinds of jobs in the company,” he said, from sales to analysts to those with a knack for conducting investigations. “Every skillset is needed for the company. One thing [employees] all need to have in common is they need to be wonderful people to work with, and to have a strong sense of passion, and being positive and upbeat.”
A North Dakota native, Pufall reinforced that the kind of work necessary to advance the “beating heartbeat of the economy,” the organizations and workforces that Omaha National serves, cannot be outsourced to individuals in other parts of the globe.
“Our No. 1 mission, and we talk about this all the time, is to build a great place for people to work and to provide them with terrific, real, rewarding careers,” he said. “You can spend years developing your skill, and have a secure job.”
Another nod to its differentiators within the industry, Pufall said it’s very common for companies to outsource a lot of their functions, be it utilization review to evaluate for unnecessary medical procedures, or medical bill review to evaluate that the right amounts are being paid.
“We don’t outsource any of that work,” he said. “We have our own, handpicked staff.”
Omaha National, frequently self-described as a “tech-enabled” provider, balances the human touch with technology resources.
“We are truly a high-tech company,” Pufall added. “We develop our own proprietary software. It really is super software. But, by no means does it replace any human beings.”
Notably, Pufall mentioned one of the most difficult conversations that his team has is to speak with an individual who has just lost his or her beloved spouse.
“A robot can’t make that phone call, or be there during that terrible moment in their lives,” he said. “We are very much in a people business. Every day, we are talking with folks who have just suffered life-changing injuries.”
Pufall said they get to help those employees return to work and their lives. The software aids in the team’s ability to support them in this manner.
Planning for Unknowns
While many discussions have revolved around the impact of the pandemic on all aspects of the workforce, including workplace environments, industry-wise Pufall said COVID-19 hasn’t had as big of an impact on workers comp claim frequency and/or severity as one may assume.
With that being said: “We have had some individuals who have contracted COVID and suffered terrible injuries. Some of them will suffer injuries that they will never recover from,” Pufall said.
“We have a very clear-eyed view of the seriousness of this virus. And we take it very seriously about what we need to do to protect our employees and to support individuals.”
When asked about the aforementioned “serious injuries,” Pufall confirmed he was referring to the long-term effects of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control is actively working to learn more about the potential long-term effects, which remains a mystery as the virus itself remains in a relative infancy.
The agency has been investigating long-term complications such as cardiovascular events, abnormal lung function, persistent neurological problems (loss of smell and taste, poor memory and concentration), and psychiatric challenges.
“We’re very medically attuned,” he said. “I just hope everybody takes it very seriously.”
In addition to supporting individuals and families through life-altering challenges, Pufall is proud that the company’s niche is in the “companies that build America.” These are small-to-midsize businesses, he explained, where people work with their hands. Fortunately, he noted Omaha National is managed in such a way as to resolve claims related to on-the-job injuries at these businesses quickly and cost-effectively.
Pufall also emphasized how the “best workers compensation claim is the injury that never happens.”
“What makes calls so difficult sometimes is to know that an accident didn’t need to happen,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Omaha National is also being supported by a reported $45 million in Series B funding from investors Accomplice, HighSage Ventures and Tull Investments as of late September.
Initially backed by Chicago-based investment firm, Agman, Omaha National reportedly plans to use these funds to transition to a “full-stack carrier,” with the company issuing policies on its own paper while distributing through its “extensive agency network.” It was also noted that Omaha National plans to continue to expand its advanced proprietary software.
The company further noted that its leadership is being fortified with the addition of tech, finance and insurance industry strength via directors selected in October to sit on its board: Beth Boucher (SiriusPoint), Nick Davies (Brit Americas, Brit Insurance, Agman), Joyce Johnson-Miller (Pacific Gate Capital) and Ryan Moore (Accomplice).