Ozark Motor Lines: The Benefits of Family Business Planning

February 1, 2021 |watch icon 5 min watch

Ozark Motor Lines is a trucking transportation company with a rich family history. Ozark was started by the Higginbotham family out of Memphis, Tennessee in 1961. As the company grew, the Higginbothams knew the benefits of family business planning would be key to their success.

Tommy Higginbotham, chief executive officer of Ozark Motor Lines, recalls how the business got started, “My dad had worked for the Frisco railroad. He saw the need for a trucking company to run from West Plains, Missouri to Memphis, Tennessee. In July 1979, daddy sold my brother, Steve, and I the business.”

Reliable for generations

Steve and Tommy expanded Ozark on their dad’s strong values and debt-free growth principles. As Ozark grew, the brothers knew they needed a strong financial strategy for business, estate and employee benefits planning. They entrusted that business financial wellness plan to UCL Financial Group, LLC, a team that shares the same family business values.

UCL Financial Group is keenly aware of the benefits of family business planning. Bob Brown, Sr. CLU LUTFC, partner of UCL Financial Group started working with Steve and Tommy over 40 years ago. Now Bob’s daughter, Rebecca Brown Schulter, agent and financial planner, is in the business, too.

“When we first started with Bob we sat around our kitchen table,” remembers Tommy. “He explained life insurance to us and other insurance. They’ve been on the spot, timely with information so we can make what we think are the right choices for us personally and the employees.”

“Over the years, I’ve watched the phenomenal growth that those two boys, taken over for their dad, has taken Ozark to where it is today,” said Bob. “[Our company has] grown along with them. The third generation of the Higginbothams is emerging to take their company into the future, and the next generation of the Brown family is positioned to work with them, as well. We’re really proud of that.”

As Ozark has grown, the comprehensive personal planning for the family business has evolved and grown, too. Bob, Rebecca and their team provided small business estate planning, business planning with life insurance and necessary succession planning for family business.

Jason Higginbotham, chief financial officer and next generation of leadership at Ozark, is happy to have such a long-standing relationship with UCL Financial Group and the Brown family. He says it helps them maintain consistency and remember important decisions.

“There’s a lot of value to the partnership,” expressed Jason. “One, just the simple day-to-day expertise they have in insurance, financial products and helping us find solutions to our problems. Another great thing about having a generational partner with Bob, and now Rebecca coming in, is when you’re a long-standing business like us, sometimes you go, ‘How did we get here?’ You don’t always retain that knowledge internally. But not if you have long-term partners like Bob and Rebecca.”

Strong benefits program

UCL Financial Group also handles most of the employee benefits planning for the family business. Specifically, their small business 401(k) retirement plan helps Ozark recruit and retain drivers in an industry struggling to gain new employees. With strong trucking company benefits, Ozark is positioned well to continue attracting the talented and dedicated workers they need to run their business.

“I’d say that the 401(k) has had a positive impact on their ability to recruit drivers at Ozark, for sure,” explained Rebecca Brown Schulter. “They’re always looking to improve their plan and increase the match. We review it every year to make sure it’s performing how it should.”

Jason is proud of the strong benefits program they’re able to offer their employees. “We’re distinguished in our industry by how we treat our people and how we approach the business. The trucks, the trailers and all the stuff is just stuff. In the end, people are what make it all happen.”

Jason’s father, Tommy, couldn’t agree more.

“Hey, what I like the best about this is the great people I’ve been able to meet,” said Tommy. “We’ve been in business 58 years. I have grown up here. A life’s journey.”

UCL Financial Group is proud to help protect and grow this family-owned business through insurance, employee benefits and financial services. Ameritas is proud to be part of their story.

Read more about the benefits of small business planning and find helpful information for your growing business. Or, find a financial professional who can help.

Testimonial may not be representative of the experience of other customers. Testimonial is no guarantee of future performance or success.

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