Innovative Employee Benefits Solutions

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Chris Lokken. Chris is the Assistant Vice President, Employee Benefits Consultant at Johnson Financial Group. The conversation of the episode started with Chris and Damon talking a little about football and basketball.  Chris helps employers develop innovate benefits solutions that keep employees healthy and happy.

Are you aware of employee benefits solutions? If not, this is your chance to learn. The guest we had today talked all about this particular term.

In this week’s The Faces of Business Episode, our guest speaker was Chris Lokken. Chris is the Assistant Vice President, Employee Benefits Consultant at Johnson Financial Group. The conversation of the episode started with Chris and Damon talking a little about football and basketball.  Chris helps employers develop innovate benefits solutions that keep employees healthy and happy.

After this, Damon asked Chris about what led him to where he is today. The response that Chris had on this was that when he was young, he never thought he would go into this field. Moreover, he said that it was in college when he thought of going into this field of finance.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

Moreover, Chris gave a very detailed answer to how he got here. He said that in his early 20s, he was doing various things here and there and it wasn’t until his late 20s that he realized, he needed to settle down somewhere.

This is when Chris moved to Johnson Financial Group to provide employee benefits solutions and work as a consultant. Moving on, Damon asked Chriss to talk about innovative business solutions and how they provide them.

In response to this question, Chris said that when it comes to these business solutions, they always try to be creative at his firm. Additionally, he further explained how employee benefits solutions work and how his company helps people.

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According to Chris, it usually depends on the business owners as well, about how they want to do this thing. He said that usually, business owners want to invest every penny in their business. In such situations, Chris says that at this point they make the client come up with a mutual plan with their firm.

Further, into the conversation, Chris talked about the entire process of employee benefits solutions. He said that when it comes to this, there are a few ways you can convey your information to the clients.

Moving on, Chris explained how this entire process worked with examples. He said that many employees get a lot of deduction from their pays, and if you don’t explain to them in detail, it doesn’t fit right with them.

Get the most value for your business by understanding the process and preparing for the sale with information here on our Selling a Business page.

This is why, while offering employees benefits solutions, he offers these clients a detailed overview of why health insurance and related costs are important for them.

The conversation ended with Damon thanking Chirs for his presence.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

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Damon Pistulka, Chris Lokken


Damon Pistulka  00:05

All right, everyone, welcome once again, the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. With me today, I’ve got Chris lockin How are you doing today, Chris?


Chris Lokken  00:15

I’m doing awesome, Damon, it’s awesome to be here.


Damon Pistulka  00:18

Man, I’m excited for us to be here today. You know, we’re gonna be talking about innovative employee benefits solutions. We’re gonna get to that a little bit later. And you you are an expert among I don’t very few that do this stuff. And it’s going to be cool to talk about those kinds of things as we as we get into that.

But before we got on, we were talking about a couple of things because you’re from the Wisconsin kind of Minneapolis, St. Paul area. And there’s an important matchup coming this week. And not so important for for my team, but for your team because you guys need to keep winning the Green Bay Packers are playing the Seahawks this weekend. So that’s gonna be a good one.


Chris Lokken  01:03

It’s always it’s it’s our non division rivalry that people get fired up for it actually used to be the Cowboys, I think but now the Seahawks and having the pleasure to go to the last playoff game at Lambeau and it was it was awesome. And yeah, and the funny thing for us out here is Seahawks quarterback is we consider him our own so you know, yeah, yeah, yeah. Mike, the Seattle Seahawks are my wife’s second favorite football team first because of the uniforms and secondly, because of Russell Wilson. Yeah. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  01:39

That’s right. Because I forget about he’s the Wisconsin guy. You know, he could have played baseball isn’t budging. Well, a lot of the other quarterbacks could technically play baseball too. But yeah, that’s something but we got it. So it’s a matchup doesn’t really mean much for the Seahawks. I mean, maybe it’ll mean we can kind of maybe get to the playoffs if we’re lucky. But the Packers I mean, you guys got a legitimate shot this year doing really well.


Chris Lokken  02:02

It’s actually pretty impressive with even our special teams to be atrocious. But the the the defense has kind of come together. This is a this this has a different feeling even than it did last year after the Mr. Brady’s debacle at Lambeau there. Well yeah debacle with Mr. Brady at Lambeau. I guess that’s a better way to say it. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  02:25

Yeah. Well, that’s cool. So it’ll be fun. And you’re going to be at the game you said this week. Ah,


Chris Lokken  02:29

yes. I have the fortunate pleasure to get there. So yeah, it’ll be fun. It’s, it might even be snowing again. Because it was snowing the last time it might even be snowing this time. So that’s, yeah, it’s a little early for snow. But there’s nothing like Lambo in the snow. So there


Damon Pistulka  02:42

you go. That’s for sure. That’s for sure. Well, that’s one of the stadiums on my bucket list to get to man cuz I think that would be a great place. Yeah. So we got Steve rice in the room. Hey, Steve. And he said, all the ducks are graduating and Meyers Russell Wilson, because he beat us in the Rose Bowl. Well, guess There you go. Here you go. Yeah, yeah, he’s got a he’s got a great college and great professional history, that’s for sure. Yeah.


Chris Lokken  03:07

Well, we were talking about it a little bit about how well he does in terms of just how he’s always just that he hasn’t changed, right. He just works really hard. And it’s a great it’s a great story. I mean, it’s I was reading a little bit this week about Matt Flynn when Matt Flynn got signed by the Seattle Seahawks in the Green Bay Packers by Mike Holmgren. He, he was gonna be starting quarterback here. He started like two games. He’s gone. Right. That’s amazing what Russell’s been able to do.


Damon Pistulka  03:37

Yeah. Yeah. And it is it is, you know, cuz you look at me look at size wise, shouldn’t be a quarterback. You look at a lot of things. He shouldn’t be. But he does. He does. And that’s the main thing.


Chris Lokken  03:47

Yeah, absolutely. So yeah. And, and he’s fun to watch as long as he’s not playing your team.


Damon Pistulka  03:54

That’s for sure. That’s for sure. There’s been a lot of them. I mean, I mean, we were talking about before we got on you go. Okay, there’s, there’s the the, you know, we won I think the last day I can’t remember when we won the NFC Championship against the Packers. That was a good one for the Seahawks. And then the one that I remember and we talked about before we got on this when the Packers were playing in Seattle.

And you reminded me that was when they had the replacement, officiating. And I had actually with my buddy, we’ve gotten to the game and it’s like, all we’re losing, we walk out of the stadium and we’re about halfway down the place to find a place to have a beer before we, you know, pack up and head out and the stadium erupts. And all of a sudden we won the game and when you go back and look and be like boy, that was pretty questionable for us to do that. And then really keep going.


Chris Lokken  04:48

No, no, that again, remember everybody? It’s a long time ago now because people did but that was the end. That was the last game that the replacement officials worked and all of the disk, all of the disagreements and everything were gone. I think by by Tuesday at like four o’clock it was done. Yeah, I think it was over at that point in time. Yeah. Yeah. The regular


Damon Pistulka  05:11

officials made their case that Yeah, exactly.


Chris Lokken  05:13

Yeah. Real quick. Yeah. And, and, and the funny inside backstory of that is, is all of those officials were either in where a lot of them were in college, and many of them never came, never came back. Because what they told you, once you went up, you probably won’t be brought back down, you won’t be able to come back to NCAA. So there was a there was a big, there was a big turnover that happened there.

Not everybody did that happen to, but there were a number of the division one college assignors, that were a little upset that they left, knowing we had division one college games, which create, that’s the one thing that happens when somebody goes up, you gotta you gotta fill the hole, right, and then it creates this chain. And if you don’t have enough trained people and things like that, that’s that’s kind of how the business works.

The business of officiating works is it can get, everybody kind of suffers along the way. And you got to find spots to fill in holes. And you know, there are some pretty intense NCAA division one games going on every week to you know, and if you’re taking guys off of there, guys and gals off of those games, it can be challenging to so


Damon Pistulka  06:19

that’s for sure. That’s for sure. Well, let’s start the start this back up a little bit, Chris, and talk about your background. Because when we when we talk about we’re going to talk about employee benefits solutions, and in just a second, but kind of give us a little bit of history about how did you really get into what you’re doing now? And then what really led you here today? Yeah,


Chris Lokken  06:41

well, the the, the interesting thing about people who work in in kind of in the benefits and insurance world, as most people tell you on these types of things, they go to you and they say, you know, Damon, I really didn’t plan to be here, right? I didn’t, I didn’t come out wanting to do this. When I left. My my, my post high school education. Well, the interesting thing is, is, for me, I actually started in the insurance business in college, I was an intern, I worked in the individual, what in more the individual life and disability business, I actually enjoyed the heck out of it. And ultimately, kind of found some, some some path in it. I have a background in a lot of critical thinking and economics.

So it was always helping me to kind of, you know, engage my brain in that level and solve problems a little bit differently. And then insurance is kind of a very important thing, I kind of go back to my mom, when she was growing up. My grandfather was a dairy farm here in Wisconsin, and my grandmother was in the hospital for a very long time and 234 weeks with a medical condition and didn’t have health insurance back then.

And it was a tough time, you know, dollars were scarce. You know, anytime in the farming world dollars are scarce, it seems like and so, you know, there’s a point in time that there was very close to things, things not going well, there. So it was always something important that was always kind of ingrained to me as a kid. And I kind of look at it now and go, No, I landed, everything happens for a reason you land in the right place.

So that’s it. I didn’t figure that out. When I was in my college thing. I was like, this is really I like doing this right. And and then as I moved through that there’s a when you’re working with individuals, and you’re really younger, in that type of business, you have a lot of people who aren’t necessarily have the whole all of the commitments that they have as you get along later in life. So it’s like, yeah, I’m going to spend X amount on that with you, or I’m going to have money to go out and, you know, go to concerts and drink beer and things like that.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. It was a little it was a little bit of a, an awakening for me when I kind of set out after school to get stay in that type of field. But what I found is I started calling on business owners, because I was like business owners, but I have to protect their businesses.

So they come in and go, Okay, you’re, you got some good things here. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about that. But you know, what I got, I got these benefits, and they’re expensive. And I’m tired of can you do something about this? So literally, here you are working in this environment where it’s built on the individual basis, you’re trying to find individual business owners to kind of work with them. And here they’re asking you to solve a completely different problem. Right. And so with that, that’s kind of where my direction LED. I worked. It worked in the world of the big insurance company.

You know, one of those ones that might have a blue logo, the second most logo, second knowlegeable logo, then Coca Cola in the world, right. That might be that might have changed now, but back in the day. Yeah. I learned a lot of things there. And I’ll tell you that I started to I I always tell everybody, I was starting to run into the walls. And when I ran to the walls, I started telling people what I thought. And, you know, it was one of those where I realized my life was probably not going to be, I would not be sitting in there for the majority of my career. But I was also working with people who do what I do now.

And I said, Wait a second, we just, we just worked our butts off to give you a, you know, a solution. There’s a lot of money involved in these things. And, you know, it was was a lot less money to then than it is today, because in the time of doing this probably is gone. All of this stuff going up at least 300% in price. Yeah, but you’re not. You’re not You’re not, you’re not. You’re not Why did what happened? Well, we went and did this. We went did that. Okay, did you even explain what we were doing? Do you explain the strategy I gave you on the back? Well, yeah, Chris, but you don’t know what you’re doing.

You’re You’re 2526 year old punk kid, right. You know, so I had a unfortunate restructuring, you know those things. And yet, when you’re when you’re, we’ve all had them. But when you’re in like, you’re in your mid 20s, you’re like, Whoa, what’s going on this, this really has gone down. i It was maybe my later 20s. But anyway, so I said, You know what, it’s time it’s time to go. Um, what I did is I work with a work and large, I had a lot of opportunities out of that people had kind of noticed what I was doing. And then I went with a large national agency, we, I had to kind of ended up having to kind of train myself.

And so that that just kind of ended, oddly, with management changes and things like that. And then what I did is, I basically said at the end of that conversation, so I’m not going to do that, again, I’m going to find the place that’s home for a while, because I like that consistency in that background. And that’s kind of how I came to work with who I work with now at the folks at Johnson. And we’re, we go into we go into long dissertation on who they are.

But you know, they’re they’re one of the greatest families in American business out of Racine, Wisconsin, you know, they’ve second generations running, running a wax company, the old wax company, you know, and yeah, and now it’s, you know, ziplock and those types of things. And then, you know, 50 years ago, they started a financial services division, and we work with that. So yeah, and it’s a fantastic story, and absolutely wonderful people from that thing. So you find it, you find a hole, you know, yeah. So


Damon Pistulka  12:30

it’s so cool that and to listen to you tell about the place where you work, it’s just, it’s really nice, because you don’t find that many people, there’s, there’s so many people that, hey, I go to work for this company or that company. And they’re really not that they don’t have a lot to say about the company, but hearing you talk about the company itself. And that’s really cool.


Chris Lokken  12:50

Yeah, well, and you know, business is hard. Telling Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, to do it for six generations and not lose your hind end is pretty impressive. But the other thing is, is they’ve done they did some things and, you know, not they haven’t been perfect, right? Especially in the Financial Service Division, there was a some situations about 10 years ago. And they were gonna, they had to make some tough decisions.

The interesting thing in the decisions was they looked at everybody that they trusted, which was their people and said, we’re gonna, we’re gonna bet our own money on you, we’re not going to bet somebody else’s money on you. That’s big, especially today in our world of mergers and acquisitions, and private equity, and venture capital, and all those things, all those things that you work in all the time, right, you know, but it’s one of those things where everybody like in our business, people just keep getting bigger, right?

The big guys at the top keep buying the little guys at the bottom. And there’s no, there’s at the end of the discussion, it just becomes this never ending churn to get to the, to the revenue number, right. Yeah. And, and to be able to have a little bit of space in there and be able to say, Hey, we got your back on that a little bit is nice. Not that we don’t have churn. Yeah, we don’t need revenue numbers. You can’t run the dang business, do it that way. But it’s, it’s, it’s pretty pretty. You


Damon Pistulka  14:11

don’t you don’t it doesn’t have to be your sole focus. I mean, right. And that’s the thing. That’s nice. And that’s part of the reason why, you know, as I’ve mentioned before my career guy got out of working and those kinds of businesses we like to deal with, and help our clients sell businesses to those kinds of buyers, because they do have money and they do that. But it’s it is nice, as you say, to work for a company that that doesn’t have to rely solely on the investors money.


Chris Lokken  14:40

Yeah, yeah. And it’s and we’ve, we were able to leverage that. However, we’re able to take that personalized approach. I don’t want to take that down to my, you know, ground level here, we’re able to be much more personalized, and then be able to do things a little bit differently than some of some of the other things folks that are doing what we do, you know?


Damon Pistulka  15:01

Yeah. Yeah. So for, for people that don’t understand, and I’m gonna ask them questions too, because I don’t know. Absolutely. So when we talk about some of the innovative benefits solutions that you’re doing, are these primarily focused around people that are that are choosing to do? And correct me if I’m using the wrong terminology, self insurance for their business?


Chris Lokken  15:26

Yes, and no, I’ll be fair, because yeah, there’s, you know, there’s a lot of people running around, and they are wonderful people. I try to be very open source and learn. I don’t get any better if I don’t learn anything every day, right? Yeah. Hopefully, I learned more than one thing every day. But you got to have you got to start somewhere, right? Yep. But there’s a lot of talk about self funding and those kinds of things.

There. Yes, there’s a ton of innovation in that space right now. But the interesting thing is, is when we’ve started building out our practice, we said, how do we just be innovative all the way around? Because sometimes it’s not the it’s not what you what you buy off the shelf, it’s how you use it, in terms of things, you know, there’s a lot.

So, you know, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a funding strategy of I’m buying from my big, you know, my blue cross my United Healthcare, those types of things, or my local regional provider owned sponsored health plan, like an HMO or something like that. If you can do some things inside of those situations, the challenge is, is to really understand the business. How do you want to do this as a business owner? Because yes, there’s business owners that want to try everything to save every dollar on this, they can spend it efficiently and effectively. But sometimes they go, You know what, we just really want to do this, well, we want to invest in this and do that.

So we take it back and say, Okay, let’s come up with our, our plan. What do you want to have happen? What does this look like from a business case perspective? And then let’s apply the things accordingly. Now, will I be if it’s Chris Lukens? Philosophy only are? What is self funding a heck of a lot way to be a lot more innovative? The answer that question is absolutely. You know, but it’s, you know, so my, my bias is probably a little bit more towards let’s, let’s get in here, rip this apart and see what we can do do things a little bit differently, because some of those other models don’t necessarily provide you the best outcome from time to time.


Damon Pistulka  17:35

That’s, that’s great to know. Because it is it is really, you said one thing in here, and you said the business case, because I think there are, some business owners are going to look at that benefit line and going to go, it’s a cost. They’re gonna say, it’s just it’s a sunk cost, I throw it away, I got to provide it, blah, blah, blah. And there’s other business owners that look at it and go, if I can do this, right, it’s going to help me recruit and retain the best people. Correct. And now, do you really see when you when they take that second approach? Does that two questions, one, do you think that that helps that I need you, I know you’re not an HR and those businesses, but do you really feel that that helps them retain the employees and recruit the employees a little bit better?


Chris Lokken  18:28

I would say yes. I think when you take it on, as this is part of what we’re doing, as part it, it has to fit into what your culture, it also lies into what your culture is, you know, if it’s here, if a culture is hey, you’re here to make parts, we’re here to give you salary and health insurance benefits. And that’s the way it is it’s an and the benefits part is really a necessary evil for me to get my parts out the door.

Right? Well, that’s not a culture that a lot of people are gonna want to hang out. Yeah, yeah, that’s now if we come to them and say, We care about you and your family, if they have a family, we care about you. We want you to be able to get out when you work hard for us, we want you to be able to play hard to, you know, especially as long as you can, right?

That’s the kind of thing I always think about, like in front of a meeting of people. I go ahead, these benefits are here. So you can you work hard here. We want you to be able to play hard as long as you can, right? We want to be able when you make your money and you retire, you can you can enjoy your health because you didn’t get out. You didn’t you didn’t have the way to pay for it. Right. There’s a different way to think about that. What that comes down to is culture. Right.

And those the scary part about it is is we’ve kind of Yeah, especially in the Midwest, where I spent a lot of my time we kind of have this good old fashioned Midwest work ethic, right? You walk into the walk into the plan, everybody’s just grinding, right? And you go how much these people make and you look at and go, Wow, they’re working hard for that much money. That’s not that I’m going I’m not saying that a lot of money, but it’s that work ethic, right? We think I think a lot of companies, you know, business owners, CEOs look at and go, we can work our way out the problem, right? We’ll just go make more stuff, sell more stuff, right?

That’s what I think they’ve kind of tried to do. But ultimately, are those decisions that have been made around that I think now are starting to bring people back to okay, what’s our culture look like? How do we start really taking better care of our people? Because, well, if you look at anything in the machining trades, these days, the average age of a machinist in the United States is 58 years old. So you got to figure we got to figure out how to make this a lot cooler for for the younger people to get them in the door, you know, because we’ve kind of lost that in our spot. So I don’t think that answered your question. I might. No,


Damon Pistulka  20:49

no, no, dude, that was great. That was great. Because it was it was, I mean, because it really is, and you brought it back to where I needed to hear it, not because I thought we were going there. But there’s awesome because it really is about keeping people healthy, longer in and outside of work, first of all, and so they so they so they can be there longer at work and off of work.

And and like you said, enjoy your life. So it’s really about that culture, rather than the benefits being a necessary evil. It’s just another way to to keep a healthy happy workforce. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s just, that’s, that’s awesome. Because when you look at it, and this was, this was gonna be one of my next questions about it.

When you look at it, and you go, okay, within reason, if somebody does this, right, and they go, Okay, I’m the person on this side, and I’m, I’m a necessary evil person. I’m like, okay, necessary evil, I’m going to give them, you know, middle of the road benefits, then I look at the person that’s on the other side of this and says, Hey, I want to really help to drive my culture with this. And, you know, I’m not looking for exact numbers or anything. But is this crazy expensive compared to on a per person kind of basis? Or is it like, you know, you look at it, you go, if I want to invest in that, that’s probably what I should do. Well, now, there’s numbers a lot different and a lot of people it’s


Chris Lokken  22:18

very layered. That’s a very layered trust. It is, it is. But I know where you’re going, I know where you’re going with this. Yeah, if I’m just Hey, get me in, get me the cheapest thing you can write. And we’re going to beat it up, and we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. But then it’s just always $1 sign. I’m going to tell you some impacts of that. And then I’m going to go the other way. Okay, good. And the funny thing is, is I think the strategy, it’s going to be kind of funny how this is going to work out what I when I’m done with it.

Awesome. Okay. All right. So, so if I come in, and I just what’s happened, let’s take how that’s being done. If you’re that person, there’s 1000s of examples out there. Where what do we do when we come in and go, Okay, isn’t necessarily we got to have it. So we can say when they come in the door, and we offer them X amount of dollars an hour we got, we got XY and Z, they can check the boxes. And we don’t talk about the plan, right?

We’re just gonna go straight down a road. Well, what happens is is you go wow, okay. Well, health care costs, remember, are the the it’s a finance mechanism, right? Yeah, we’re buying health care services, health care services in this country go up about anywhere between six and 10% a year. That’s, and that’s before, some of the inflationary winds that have been blowing this year, how we’re in this, like, oh, inflation went up 6%. In October, I went well, welcome to Healthcare, like every year for the last forever, right?

So we’re buying. So when I go to that strategy, I’m buying something that’s more expensive every year, I’m financing something that’s more expensive every year and that strategy. So what am I doing? I’m going on paying more to purchase the financing mechanism. And I’m guessing I’m adjusting those terms, because I don’t want to pay too much more. So what does that happen?

Well, I got to I got to hydraulics to play with there, I got premium costs to meet to me as a company or employer, or how I invest in it. If it’s a self self fund, it gets a little more complicated. We talked about the premium costs, but you stay out of that. I have that upfront investment in the financing strategy, and I have how the financing strategy works throughout the course of the year, which is those things that we pay when we go to the doctor, deductibles, co payments, those kinds of things.

Well, the funny thing is, is all we’ve done is we’ve tried to always play the hydraulics game premiums and that’s to try to make the budget work. What is it done? Well, not people have deductibles that they really can’t afford. Yeah. Okay, you have five we have people making $15 an hour with a 5000 dollar deductible? Well, most average Americans have $400 in their savings account right now. Yeah, yeah. Right. So how is that going to work?

When I need to go take care of something, right? More than likely, unless it’s an absolute all out emergency, I’m probably going to delay care, I’m probably going to wait till it gets really bad. Right? So it kind of becomes this. And I’ll, I’ll tie this back in to the the other way of doing it, where we say, hey, wait a second, that model is flawed. And I will tell you we’ve, you learn a lot by doing right we Yeah. What we’ve come to from that discussion lately is, is that some of the things that we were doing with these bigger deductibles on people would you go on?

Well, it’s just the way we got to make it work, we found is, that’s not working for people, they’re afraid to get sick, and they’re afraid that that they they’re going to go bankrupt? Well, that’s why you have health insurance, right. So if you embrace that, as an employer and say, it’s part of our culture, to really take care of you and your family, we’re going to we’re going to structure our plan based upon this, and we’re going to educate you on what’s going on out there. I think that’s the biggest thing is getting people to understand how things work because nobody wants to do it. Nobody wants to go get health care.

For the most part, we don’t want to be there when we’re seeing hurt. Nobody wants this stuff. So but we’re gonna teach you that. And then the other thing is, is, don’t you get really frustrated when it seems like the doctor brings you back six times for that hangnail we’ll use as a very easy, easy way. Well, here’s, here’s some things we’re going to put into our program. Here’s some solutions we’re going to put in to help you better understand what’s going on out there. And it’s amazing. And then if you do some things, and you pay attention, because the difference between doctor a doctor B and doctor see, you know, Doctor a could do for $14,000 could do that knee replacement for you.

And he works on professional sports teams, doctors, doctors see could do it for 60,000. And he he’s just the guy that graduated last for his class in medical school, you got Dr. B in the middle that everybody kind of thinks it’s a really nice guy. Well, he’s 30,000. Right? You know, the problem is, is those cost numbers also relate to the quality numbers, the lowest cost provider is usually the highest cost provider because they’ve got the most reps. If you can get your I always tie everything back to learning about precision manufacturing.

So it fascinates me. Right? I’m not mechanical at all. I have no marketable skills in it. But you wouldn’t you wouldn’t. Some of the things that we see in healthcare, you would not, those would not be acceptable tolerances on the shop floor. Oh, yeah. And in fact, if I, if if I went out and produced something out to the doctor, see tolerance, I wouldn’t have a job next week, right. So it’s one of those situations where teaching people that there are those differences, giving them the guidance to do that. It’s interesting, because you’re taking care of, you’re taking care of them, you’re giving them a benefit.

And the weird part about it is, we’re probably spending more on this the necessary evil side, we end up spending more than we would spend on that, in that area where we’re taking care of people and helping them better understand a system and then putting financial incentives behind them. So they can go afford, they aren’t going to go bankrupt or concerned that they’re going to not be able to pay the bill. You know, yeah. So that’s kind of the that’s kind of the way you can work with it. How’d I do?


Damon Pistulka  28:39

That’s awesome. That’s a man. Because I think I think you’re right. It’s like a lot of things you just look at if you just look at a number and go, okay, but you’re talking about behind the numbers. And this. I mean, months ago, we had these conversations, and I thought that’s why I’m so excited that when you said you want to do this, because you know, it’s not about you.

You said one thing that I think most people don’t even fail to consider three doctors, all different prices to do the same knee replacement. Correct. People don’t even know you got that choice. Right? I’ll tell you until my wife who was in the healthcare industry told me that I had that choice. Until then, doctor, he said you need to go to Dr. B. I went to Dr. B. Dr. B can be the most horrible highest cost Where’s care I wouldn’t have known I would just know that I got referred there that’s why I got to go.

Now it’s you’re researching you’re looking at those kinds of things you’re figuring out is it really the right place is and and like you said, Am I going back seven times for a hangnail when I don’t have the doctors talking? And and you know, just the kinds of things that you have to do as a patient and the kinds of things you look at, you have to look at how they work together. And I can see how you’re, you can come up with With lower costs with better care,


Chris Lokken  30:03

Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, and the best part about it is, is let’s go back to what we said we had the benefits for. Work hard, play hard. You get back to playing harder when you don’t have complications from a surgery. Yeah, right. I’m not I’m not a I’m not a good patient myself. Right? Just ask my wife, right? If I’m saying if I’m sick, like a day of sick, I’m just, I’m, I’m, I’m a puddle. Like, I’m just I’m, but I don’t get sick very often, which is, yeah, I’m very, very fortunate. But it’s, it’s one of those where it is.

You know, it’s people don’t understand that that could be the difference, right? Yeah. When you listen, if you talk to people about how frustrating it is they because when you have, like boiling Bone and Joint type surgeries, you’re usually in a heck of a lot of pain. Right?

You’re like, get this. You’re ready to cut off your leg. Yeah, instead of instead of get the joint replace them. I mean, people when they get it done, they don’t even need painkillers half the time because they’ve been in so much pain previously. Yeah, right. Yeah, you just so unfortunately, we don’t take that step and go, Hey, wait a second. Wait a second. This is this is kind of a big deal. I’m replacing. I’m replacing original equipment parts. I need to be a little smarter. Yeah. And that’s kind of how I see it. So


Damon Pistulka  31:22

that’s great. That, we’ll get back to that. That’s awesome. I’ve replaced the original equipment parts. I gotta write that down. That’s, that’s, that’s awesome. Well, I just want to thank James. Hey, great to see here. James. Thanks a lot for being here. We got Gail here, too. I think I she’s mentioned David. David. I didn’t see David here. So oh, maybe David’s in the crowd. And I didn’t see him. That’s awesome. And then she, of course gales Canadian. So we have a little different challenge there. Yeah. Yeah.


Chris Lokken  31:56

That’s it. That’s a whole nother that’s a whole nother that’s a whole nother week of podcasts.


Damon Pistulka  31:59

Yeah. I don’t know enough about it. But But yeah, it is. It is it is for sure. But I like that you’re replacing a crit original equipment parts. Yeah, because it is it is. And you know, it’s it’s a fact of life anymore. There’s a lot of us that decided that we were not going to play you know, that we were going to do things that our body really wasn’t meant to do when we were younger, just because engineers and other people have figured out that you can do these things doesn’t mean that you should be doing them. Correct. And, and, and just normal accidents as well. But this is awesome.

So I want to get to a couple other personal things. We’ll get back and talk about some of the absolute coolest thing you’re seeing but I want to ask you what’s the funniest golfing story that you can share with us today? Oh, you’re an avid golfer,


Chris Lokken  32:47

I am an avid I am an avid golfer. And I’m getting worse that’s the that’s the problem. I probably have played more in the last couple years because of Well, last year was was was the thing you could do right because it COVID And everything else being shut down. You can couldn’t go to concerts couldn’t go to couldn’t go couldn’t go do anything. So you know last year I played a lot and then played tried to play a lot this year but I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve got a I’ve actually might even have to go see a professional. So he’s been able to fix it but I started a long time ago probably the funniest golfing story as the first. I think the first round I played golf ever.

I was 14 years old and up in up in northern Wisconsin, which it’s you know, usually about 38 degrees. Yeah, when we first get on a course a lot like it is today here in the lovely Midwest we are experiencing a Seattle day I call it it just raining all day. But anyway, so it’s one of those things and I my little home course my little hometown in and I’m I’m doing okay, right I’m kind of dragging around but this because this is different. I never played golf before I picked up a golf club at 14 years old.

So I don’t want to join the high school golf team. Right? That’s what I did. So I took a 36 on one hole, because I was falling because we were told to follow the rules, right? I think I shot 135 And I had a 36 on one hole because I could not get my drive to go over this little inlet ravine of water. So that’s that’s that’s how it began. That’s it’s actually funny because most people would be smart enough to probably quit then, but I did not. So there you go Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  34:32

that’s awesome.


Chris Lokken  34:34

The problem is, that’s like the first one that came to mind. So that might be the best one. I’m not sure there’s there’s quite a few good ones out there. But other


Damon Pistulka  34:41

people don’t really understand in the north in the northern part of the United States. There’s some really beautiful golf courses there really are. And you know if you can get to them between the seasons of you know, winter and mosquito season. You’re pretty good, but and they’re there but there are there’s a lot of lovely


Chris Lokken  34:56

Oh, we play well like just in a state of Wisconsin. Do you look at the quality of golf in this state compared to even compared to what it was when I was a kid, right when I was in high school, and we have we have Aaron hills, we didn’t have whistling straits and, and BlackWolf run and now the group now there’s another group in the central Wisconsin that’s got three or four really fantastic courses.

Sand Valley people. We have there’s there’s a lot of golf here in Wisconsin. And and same thing when you go to Minnesota or you go to Michigan. I mean, it’s, it’s pretty. It’s it’s pretty awesome here. And it’s amazing that they some of these courses look as nice as they do, you know, with the fact that they’re covered with snow for three or four months. Yeah. So


Damon Pistulka  35:41

in some ways that might help them because I think a lot of the courses in the in the deep south you’ve ever played are hard all year round. And when I lived down there, that’s what you’d see is they just get they get that traffic all year. The ones in the north get the rest of it. That’s cool.


Chris Lokken  35:57

Yeah. And I actually live on a golf course. So I I literally today it is colder than it is that we have when you get this rain and stuff where we live and in the wind. And it’s like, oh, no, yeah. And by the way, it’s the it’s the day after the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. So the gales of November, get over already here. And, and it’s like, I’m sitting here watching doing some work this afternoon. And I go, What in the heck is going on? There are two guys out playing one of them was in shorts. So there you go.


Damon Pistulka  36:31

See this constant. That’s awesome, though. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, we got Matt in the House is saying we were talking about you earlier, Matt. Yeah. And we’ll talk about you more as we get on and Matt, of course is a is a Seahawks fan. If you can’t tell. No. No.

A little bit. A little diehard Packer fan there, and that’s awesome. But if Matt didn’t hurt here earlier, I think that the Seahawks are gonna have a tough road this week. This weekend. It’s gonna be hard. But uh, yeah, you know, they, my my funniest golf story, and I just remembered as I was coming in here is I was playing in, and I was I was so fortunate. I didn’t take off golfing until I was in college. Right. And I started in business, and I was like, golfing and never golf before.

So I go out and golf. And for people that grow up or there’s, like, I grew up in South Dakota, right? So it’s it’s flat, it’s flat, and it’s dry. So you go out on some of these country courses, you can hit the ball, it just keeps bouncing and going. And you know, that was kind of fun. And there’s no trees. So, but see, I was really lucky that I lived on a I lived on a lake up there shortly after college in outside of Brookings, and it was at the Brookings Country Club. And that beautiful 18 hole course on the lake 300 members and there there were most of them were we’re nearing retirement age.

So I would get done with work. And I could go out there and play just with no one else on the course literally, you know, five, six people on 18 holes. It was it was absolutely insane. And of course you never keep score. Hmm. So you come in and when my scorecard says something and golfers and know that your handicap or whatever I forget what it says here it says and my handicap wasn’t quite that but you come to a tournament that’s what you have to show you show your card right?

And that was always funny because people would people would go Hey, you gotta be on my team. You gotta be on my team going by it because they see I was the golf club rat you know that was around out there playing golf all the time. No, but we were in a we were in a basketball tournament and we were at one of the one of the holes I forget what it was what hole was but we were standing there and and we were like seven yards away from the pin and it was up for the hill he couldn’t see it but played it a lot. Right played a lot.

So I told I told somebody in the in the group that I knew and I was playing with some friends I said I’m gonna make this like what said Yeah, and if for some reason I just felt like I want to make it and I copy down I go I hit the ball hit the ball nice. They went up there and we got up there we couldn’t find the ball. And I said I must say that to heart we’re looking around back and somebody walks up pulls it out of the hole that’s that was a funniest story. I knew I wasn’t that great a golfer but it was still funny.


Chris Lokken  39:43

Anytime you call your shot that’s Yeah, yeah, I mean


Damon Pistulka  39:48

it was good good stuff but yeah, the golfing is golfing as a as you do and you say you’re getting worse. It’s one of those things that you really need to take it with the right attitude because man is a Anger will just kill you.


Chris Lokken  40:01

Yeah, it’s in literally it probably is your mind is probably it was often said many times the secret to golf is managing the eight inches of green space between your ears, right? I think I think what happened to me a lot this year was like, started to press right. And then you press you don’t play well, yeah. And you you know, when you listen to the PGA Tour, guys, I spent a lot of time listening to these guys, because I’m fascinated by how far these guys launched this thing. Right? These little guys, they aren’t any bigger than a toothpick.

You look at these guys, but they go in I’m only using 75% of my power. So when people say why you I have my normal groups play it and like how why am I hitting it so bad? Because trying to kill it? Right? Well, the problem is I didn’t do as good a job this year at taking my own advice. Right. And it happens. Yeah, there’s always yeah, there’s always next year you know, we’ll we’ll get we’ll get working out some things that will feel good or figured out next year. You know, the beauty of it there’s always another route Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  40:59

that’s for sure. Well that’s funny cuz I my my golfing partner back then Dan, he was about 150 pounds soaking wet. And would would drive way past me every time. Just like you said, it’s just smooth and smooth and relaxed. But that’s cool. So now another thing that you do that’s kind of different in your unofficial for for football, basketball. Other things. Yeah. You and Matt do a little of that.


Chris Lokken  41:27

We we do. We do quite a few high school varsity basketball games together. Yeah. Sometimes, sometimes. Probably. He’s got you know, homie along so he’s a little bit grudgingly on his behalf. But anyway, no, it’s, it’s yeah, I’ve been doing that for I’ve been doing that for 23 years. I did that right out of college. I always wanted to do it. I had, I had a couple other things that I spent time outside of studies and things like in working in college that I was doing with some some singing and some things like that. So I kind of never did the officiating thing. So when I got out of college, I said, Okay, I’m going to do that, right. I’d always wanted to do it.

We grew up in our town, my dad, my dad was involved with all the athletics he’s plays, he was a teacher. So he was also the guy that did the the clock and the score book and announcing it football games, all that stuff. So I literally pretty much grew up around that it’s just a part of our lives. So I you know, Friday night when they say Friday Night Lights, that’s like, Absolutely. Right. I lived it. That was there was like, watching it. And in you know, basketball was basketball is kind of my, my, my first sport that I really got to understand really, really well so, and officials and then I was, you know, we would, I’d be there I’d wait for my dad to take me home.

Well, we I got to know all the officials. Right. So yeah, I just thought it was so cool. That on Tuesday night, they got to go watch that game. And Monday night, they got to go watch that game. And on Thursday, they got to go watch that game. And then Friday, they came to our town, right? Or you know, and I just thought that was fascinating. You mean they get to go like watch like four or five basketball games a week. And I’m just like, when you’re like six or seven, right? Right?

What is the coolest thing ever? They get a car and they get to go through this and whatever. It’s so I just always wanted to do it. I started because my sister was a few years younger than me she was playing basketball at high school level and kind of didn’t really understand why these guys didn’t call the game better. And you know, that whole kind of like, hey, Raph, what’s going on here? You’re terrible, right? That thing, right? I’ve you know, and, and so I’m like, okay, you know, you’re 23 years old. You’ve always wanted to do this. You’re gonna need to figure this out. How are you going to do this?

So the the best part about this is is I there was officiating class. And this the gentleman who ran the fishing class is a very accomplished official in state Wisconsin. He’s also got says, my neighbor now three blocks down, right? Oh, wow. So whatever i i Not every time I see Ken, but when I see Ken, every once while he goes, you’re still the only guy in my officiating class that walked in and said, God, darn it, if I can’t do a better job than I will shut up forever, because these guys don’t know what they’re doing. I can do a better job.

That’s how I started I had a little bit I probably had a little bit of extra hubris, as you usually do when you’re 23 years old, right? Yeah. So but it’s yeah, so that’s kind of how I started and just worked it’s a it’s a process right? It is a journey just like anything else. It’s a great journey. There’s it’s fantastic group of people. When when we get around and start hanging out and talking about things and telling stories. And it’s like you how do you know are you guys know each other all that? Well, I know I just met him last week, right?

Or, you know, that kind of stuff. So it’s it’s a it’s a it’s a camaraderie, there’s kind of a fraternal nature to it. And it’s, it’s, that’s the best part of it. At the end of the day, I can’t my dad looked at me probably in my early teens and said, you don’t have the patience to be a teacher. So you’re going to need to figure something else out. But I do like to teach. I do like to work with kids. I like that aspect because it’s something that that my parents both had a passion for. So yeah, it allows me to kind of keep that going. And I learned a crap ton of lessons. I just told you about one of them. 36 on a whole people quit.

People don’t play golf after that. Right. I learned that and you know what I I’m, by the time I was a senior in high school, I was on the varsity team. Right? So you know, it’s, it’s it. That’s a life lesson. You can’t teach that stuff in a classroom. And that’s what I like about officiating is it allows me to stay keeping that class what I was called the classroom between the lines and helping kids learn that, and they get upset and they got, it gets. It’s weird. It’s weirder than it was ever. It’s weirder now than it was ever, not because of COVID or anything like that. It’s parents. Yeah, yeah.

Mom and Dad’s, you know, and you kind of look at them and go, you know, what, just keep you doing a really good job tonight. Just don’t worry about what mom and dad is saying. Just go. And then we had a lot of situations. So it’s yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been a very rewarding thing. And it’ll tell you what it gets me out of, I can spend, I can work 80 hours a week. Just ask everybody who knows me. The problem is you got to have stuff that takes your mind out of your work to be productive. Yeah, so that’s for sure. That’s a little different. That’s a little different spin on it. Probably when you hear from Yes, but


Damon Pistulka  46:37

we’ll talk about just a little bit more I just say thanks for Trish off and Bye. She said golf. Twain said golf the good walks boiled. Yeah. And then we got Rodney Canada in the house. Thanks, Rodney. Rodney works over a manufacturing place over here and I don’t know if you call it Central Washington, but it’s just over the mountains and unbelieving Yakima less cool. And David’s here. All right. Got David in the room. Oh, just want to say hello to everyone.


Chris Lokken  47:07

People actually want to hear what we have to say. I’m yeah, I’m like, Wow. Yes, good.


Damon Pistulka  47:13

Yeah. It’s awesome. It’s awesome. Viola just just talking to share stories and things and because, you know, we all have interesting stories inside. So So you said something you you were singing what were you doing singing? Were you like singing out in nightclubs? What were you doing? Well, no, because you’re gonna have you know, karaoke sometime. I’m just,


Chris Lokken  47:31

I don’t well, but we have the Well, yeah. When when I would get set back rolling again. Yeah, but or we just need to have like a meet up and do karaoke. Somewhere in the middle of the United States. But no, the No, so actually, I have, I’ve always kind of been musically inclined. Um, I, my mother’s dream for me was to play music box dancer on the piano. So she she slugged me through nine years of piano lessons. Yeah, it didn’t take you know, but But I wish I could sing music. So I just got to sing all the way through stuff. And then I get to high school and they go, you know, you’re kind of, you’re kind of, Okay, at this stuff. I’m like, really.

So, you know, did all of those things came came, I actually went to the college I went to because I wanted to sing in a group called UW Eau Claire, which not everybody knows. Singing statesman, and it’s a it’s a world renowned Men’s Chorus. Okay, so it sounds kind of like, okay, that’s kind of different, right. But they, they, they just was always a there was always a high, high level organization. So I kind of, you know, learned kind of classical vocal training, and you learned all that stuff.

And then I went, I actually went to university and didn’t start with those guys. I took me a couple years to get to make it work into my schedule. But then we got to go, I got to go to I got to go to Europe twice and sing in, you know, cathedrals, and you know, I kind of one of my lines is is you know, how many of you have sung a high mass at domes or Salzburg on a Sunday morning? Not a lot of people get to sing and, you know, Salzburg cathedral of Warwick, you know, and it’s, it’s, you know, and it was, it’s a great group of people.

Most of those a lot of those people are the people from my formative years, if you will, that I stay in touch with the most you know, and, you know, it’s funny, the stories, the stories stay the same, and it’s a great group of guys and we’ve you know, we were always together in terms of things so yeah, I sang quite a bit in college. That was my was one of those like, my, my, my one of the things we did so yeah, it was pretty cool. Yeah, so no doubt now it’s just limited to croaky bars and you know, that kind of thing, although that is how I met my wife so there you go.


Damon Pistulka  49:48

Oh, God Awesome. Awesome. Well, you must have been pretty good because a to get in the into the into the with the other track your wife can’t be that bad. Well,


Chris Lokken  49:58

you know, yeah, exactly. Well there’s there’s a lot of push probably another story that if we had, you know, this wasn’t necessarily somewhere on there. I could tell you on how on how I how I got to be a lot better croaky singer, but we’ll just leave that out.


Damon Pistulka  50:13

There we go, there we go that will be for another time. Another time right there because it’s uh, you know, it’s it’s when you hear about you and learn about you the golf, the officiating and then the from the the the parent and grade raising the parents that were educators and stuff it really brings full circle, why you like to help people with benefits the way you do and why you like to really understand, you know, the medical business and how to really help people do have more effective benefits solutions for their employees to their employees can can lead happier and healthier lives and you can really understand that after you hear hear more about you.


Chris Lokken  50:57

Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s, that’s cool. Yeah, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s life is short. Every year I turn around the sun. I go Good lord, on that old now, right. I mean, we don’t also we have an expiration date, sadly, and, sadly, are not sadly, you know, depends on how you look at it. But it’s you have to we have to do things to try to help people. Right. And, and the thing is, is I’m businesses being successful.

That’s great, right, that does a lot of things. You know, you look at you look at certain people, you know, that might be on this podcast, look at what that person means to not only his community but a bunch of other communities around here. How do I help him not waste money on something we doesn’t have to waste money? Yeah, right. How do we do that? So and that’s where it kind of builds into my, my thought process because I think it’s, we can help businesses, you know, be successful, you know, and you’re you do all that stuff yourself as well we just go at it from two different angles, you know, so


Damon Pistulka  52:00

very cool because you’re helping them make a bigger impact by making their employees happier and healthier and just man that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, great stuff Chris. It’s been so much fun having you on yeah I really enjoyed it.


Chris Lokken  52:17

52 minutes is gone like poof right? Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  52:22

It man you’re you’re great guy you really know what you’re doing and in the benefits world and it’s awesome and it’s it’s so cool to hear more about you your background other things because it’s it really brings things full circle and I hope people enjoyed listen to it. I know I had a ball. I have a spin off. Thanks so much for being here again today. Chris. We’re gonna wrap it up for now.

Hey, everyone, this listening here. We’re back again next week on Tuesday and Thursday. And like, always on Thursday, I forget who’s coming next week. So sorry about that. But that’s just me. That’s the way it is. But I’m so happy today. I got Chris Logan here today. If you guys want to want to talk to Chris meet him whatever. Just come to my profile on LinkedIn and and got him or look him up Chris Logan l OKKEN. They spell it right. I think I did. Yeah. And we will you can get a hold of him there. And we’re going to be signing out for now. But thanks everyone for watching.

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