Ten Leaders to Know: Casey Mills (Full Profile)

August 14, 2023 | Ten Leaders to Know


Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz & Associates

Birth City
Sioux City

Current City
Sioux City

How did you get where you are today?
After graduating from the University of Nebraska, I pursued my passion for public policy and worked for Senator Grassley first in DC and then on his re-election campaign. As most Iowans know, politics never stops and with activity for the 2012 Iowa Caucus picking up immediately after the 2010 election I took a role as the communications director with the Republican Party of Iowa. While, I thoroughly enjoyed my time working in politics, I had always wanted to perpetuate our family business and decided to pursue my MBA at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Business. After completing my MBA I worked as a management consultant for Accenture Strategy in Chicago for 3 years before returning home to Sioux City and to work at our family's insurance agency, Mills-Shellhammer-Puetz & Associates.

What excites you the most about the business you work in?
Two things come to mind. First, there is a considerable amount of texture day-to-day in the insurance industry. You get exposure to many different industries and people. No two days are the same.

Second, I consider it an honor to work with my father everyday. He started the agency as the lone agent with one account manager nearly thirty years ago and continued to build the agency over time. He's certainly my mentor but also someone I look up to as a person who took the risk to go hang their own shingle and grow something from the ground up.

What do you see as the next big trend in your industry?
Whether you have a 100 unit transportation company or simply a personal vehicle, telematics either has been or will be part of your insurance program. Insurance carriers are able to more accurately price exposures with more data, and with better understanding of an individual's driving habits they can more precisely assign a premium.

Where do you look for inspiration or to generate new ideas?
My clients. Siouxland has always had an impressive group of business leaders and entrepreneurs and it has always been a priority of this agency to be active in the business community. As I alluded to before, you get broad exposure to different industries in the insurance but you also have access to a diverse group of leaders.

Beyond that, I have worked to maintain my business school network and often seek the advice of my former classmates, whether that be through ways to grow our business or ways to grow professionally.

What does effective leadership mean to you?
An occupational hazard of being a management consultant is that you think you need to be the source of all the answers. Effective leadership is having the humility to understand that more often than not you may not have the correct answer, but instead your role is to bring together those that might and help flesh out a solution.

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?
Prior to moving back to Iowa, we lived in downtown Chicago. There is no shortage of things to do in Chicago, but I wouldn't trade the opportunities we have in Iowa. We can play play catch in the backyard, be at all of our kids activities without fighting traffic and enjoy a sense of community you won't find in a large city.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Be more present. I spent a good chunk of my early career thinking about what was next rather than enjoying and learning from what was happening in the moment.

Why are you a member of ABI?
I was first introduced to ABI by two leaders within our community, Charese Yanney of Guarantee Roofing and Siding and Larry Countryman of Wilson Trailer Company. Larry had long served on the tax policy committee and through him I learned about the strength of having a unified voice at the capitol to drive change and improve our state's business climate. Charese was a former chair of ABI and she helped me see the benefits of collaboration with other industry leaders in our state.

As a business leader, what book would you recommend for personal or professional growth?
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals. The book tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln brought together diverse opinions and personalities, often divergent from his own, for the greater good.