Scott Hokanson, Sr.
Scott Hokanson Sr.
President, BRABO Benefits
“I am not a general contractor, I’m a finished carpenter,” said Scott Hokanson Sr. explaining his approach to employee benefits as President of Brabo Benefits. “A lot of health insurance people out there don’t like health insurance, I’m a health insurance expert,” he said.
The 45-year-old Marquette University graduate flashes a wide smile and takes pride in discussing the work of Brabo, the company he founded in May 2013.
An expert in helping companies manage the purchase, evaluation, communication and implementation of benefit plans, Hokanson is considered a subject matter expert in the employee benefits space. He has been invited by several business organizations to share his expertise on topics ranging from healthcare reform to insurance underwriting.
“My goal is to be a trusted resource to our clients helping provide the best employee benefits for their company, employees and family” said Hokanson, who is also an American Mensa member.
Brabo currently supports approximately 600 companies with payroll, benefits, human resources and bookkeeping services. One hundred percent of clients are based on referrals.
After leaving a position at a Wall Street firm in 2013, he decided to start an employee benefits firm based in Plymouth, Mass. “I had 20 years of experience in this industry and with all the confusion relative to Obamacare, I knew we could provide a valuable service,” he said.
“It was a real leap of faith. I had to convince my bride to invest our life savings in the company but I was confident that we could do it,” he said.
The Kingston resident and married father of five understood and accepted the risks associated with the ambitious venture that required substantial personal investment.
“It was a unique environment with Obamacare changing things and there was a real flight to quality,” he said. “People needed our help and I knew that if we did right things, it would all work out,” he added.
We Are Brabo
“We are available, we answer the call and we are good at what we do,” he said.
Hokanson also points to the Brabo culture as a reason for client loyalty.
“We work very hard at building relationships in the community and with one another,” he said.
“Being active in the community and responsive to our client’s needs is important. We handle people’s taxes and health insurance, both very personal relationships,” he said.
“When someone calls with a health insurance issue and we solve it, you have a client for life,” he said.
Brabo’s recent expansion to Cape Cod and addition of 5o new clients to an already strong portfolio signals continued growth for the 4 ½-year-old company.
Vice President, BRABO Payroll
The EMT certification class offered at Northeastern University in 2007 had been a challenging, time consuming but ultimately rewarding experience for Heather Hurlburt.
The pre-med student enjoyed taking the course, made a few good friends and satisfied an academic requirement. Of course, she was relieved the class reached its conclusion and was poised to pursue the next phase of her medical training.
Quiet and reserved by nature, she had no interest in attending the end of course cookout being thrown by a classmate in Hull.
It was only under extreme social pressure that she acquiesced and agreed to attend.
During the class, Heather had rarely spoken to the host, Kevin Hennessey. She could not possibly be aware, however, that her decision to attend this end of class soiree would profoundly change the course of her life and eventually her last name.
Ten plus years later, much has changed.
Kevin and Heather Hennessey are now married and proud parents of Aiden, 9, and newborn Conor. The couple are also business partners, running the successful Plymouth based Brabo Payroll. The two-year-old company has grown exponentially, recently partnering with 5o additional clients and expanding Brabo’s footprint to Cape Cod.
Path To Brabo
Working towards her academic goals, Heather embarked on a solo 5- week international medical internship in Nepal.
Flanked by China and India, Nepal is a landlocked, mountainous Central Asian country that was closed to the outside world until the 1950s. After receiving her itinerary, the Plymouth native dusted off her passport, which featured a lone stamp from a high school trip to France, packed her bags and embarked on the 24- hour journey to Kathmandu.
“Pouring a cup from a 5-gallon drum of water over your head was the closest thing to a shower,” she recalled. “Food was prepared on the floor and I was mortified and worried that I would get sick, which is what happened,” she said.
Staying with a host family in austere conditions, Heather adjusted to life alone in the shadow of the Himalayan Mountains.
During the fourth week, she contracted Giardia, a parasitic illness and treated with antibiotics. She worried how she could endure the return trip to the United States.
“I remember being so sick and wondering how I would survive the 24-hour flight back home,” she said.
Despite the hardships, she found the experience to be enlightening.
“It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. To fly out was scary, especially being by myself. I trusted in these strangers. I was braver then and I was lucky,” she said with a laugh.
Kevin and Heather both earned EMT certificates but would not use them professionally as originally planned. However, both would forge the same path personally and professionally ultimately became the president and vice president respectively of Brabo Payroll.
We Are Brabo
Aidan was a year old in 2010 when Heather decided to take a hiatus from her medical studies to spend more time with him. Her father, Stephen Hurlburt, owned several businesses including a bar, auto body shop and towing company. She took on the responsibility of management.
“He needed help and I started in towing dispatch and eventually ended up running his bookkeeping, writing appraisals, hiring and firing,” she recalled.
The work was a sharp contrast from the medical field in which she had become accustomed but was nonetheless valuable.
“I learned how to manage and operate multiple companies at once,” she said.
She said working for her father challenging, but an experience that would serve her well when Kevin asked her to help with his then-fledgling company, Brabo Payroll.
“Kevin is not an office person and needed my expertise with the organization and managing all of the paperwork,” she recalled.
Living and working together was not exactly a seamless transition.
“It was a nightmare,” she remembered with a chuckle. “He would say yes to everything and I would say no.”
Brabo’s success has tempered those initial anxieties.
“It’s much better now that you can see it all unfolding. I could never imagine growing so fast,” she said.
Brabo’s recent expansion to Cape Cod and addition of 50 new clients to an already strong portfolio signals continued growth for the company.
“This phone call is going to change your life,” said Kevin Hennessey to an incredulous Brenna Flynn.
Recently returned from California, Brenna Flynn, a native of Sutton, Mass was in the process of adjusting to life back in New England. Flynn was at a career crossroads when she received the call from Kevin Hennessey.
She was driving with a friend when she took the call.
“Oh, please,” she recalled saying with a laugh.
After a lengthy discussion and subsequent lunch in Providence, Kevin persuaded her to join his new company, Brabo Payroll.
“I accepted because I knew Kevin and how passionate he was about helping clients and establishing great relationships,” she said.
“At first, I was skeptical but Kevin was right. He usually is,” said Brenna, the then Relationships Manager at Brabo Payroll in Plymouth, Mass.
“He believed in me and I am so glad he called,” she said.
Excited For Her New Role
In her now current role of Executive Assistant to the President, Kevin Hennessey, the Fitchburg State University graduate draws on extensive corporate experience in sales, marketing and administration to help enhance customer engagement and drive revenue for Brabo.
“I am the ‘go to’ person for clients who have a question or are confronting a problem,” she said. “I am not going to refer you to someone else, I will make sure the problem gets solved.”
“He wants to make sure things are done right and he cares, he just cares,” said Brenna relative to working for Kevin.
Brenna attributes a great deal of her recent success to Kevin’s and Heather’s guidance and encouragement. “They believed in me and reminded me of what I could accomplish,” she said. “I was so afraid of disappointing them.”
“People aren’t numbers to him and he wants customers to have the best experience possible at Brabo,” she said.
The two share a close friendship and implicitly understand one another. Brenna’s organizational acumen and keen attention to detail serve to balance Kevin’s frenetic pace.
“I am able to offset the areas where he doesn’t excel so he can focus on his strengths,” she said.
We Are Brabo
“I feel like Brabo is more like family than just a company. I feel like I am part of Brabo and not just drawing a paycheck,” she says regarding the supportive culture.
Brenna’s quality of life has improved immeasurably after starting at Brabo.
“My family and friends noticed a change and could tell that I love working here,” she said which she credits Kevin’s influence.
Brabo has grown exponentially over the last two years and in the past 60 days has doubled their client base augmenting an already robust client portfolio.
Proudly produced by Executive Recognition Services
Video by Allyson Morin
Articles by Matt Benedetti