Artex Steps Forward Chicago, Illinois

Nov 04, 2020

Welcome to Chicago, Illinois

The 12th stop in our walk around the world.

We’ve arrived in Chicago ― the 12th stop on our Artex Steps Forward journey!

We left Dallas a few days ago and have walked 805 miles and landed in Chicago. That means we’re less than 8,000 miles from finishing our trip around the world. But we’re not ready to celebrate our journey’s end. We’ve arrived in Chicago and we have lots of great information to share.

Chicago is home to our North American division of Artex, led by Jennifer Gallagher, president of Artex North America. Jennifer was one of our three cofounders and has been with the company since day one! One could say she’s been with the company before its inception, as her entire career has been with Arthur J. Gallagher— Artex’s parent company—the company that her grandfather built more than 90 years ago. Under her tutelage are 200+ people responsible for captive and insurance management, as well as program and facility management. Her advice for those looking to begin careers in insurance sales roles is simple: “Put the bad news upfront. Integrity with your clients and prospects is everything.” Over the past few weeks, she’s been walking in support of Boys Hope Girls Hope, an international organization dedicated to working with young people in need from their adolescent years, through college and into the launch of their careers. She is on the board of directors of this organization while also personally mentoring 16 children.

Next up, we’ve got Chad Kunkel, executive vice president ― group captives. Chad reports to Jennifer and runs the group captive organization, comprised of approximately 41 people in both Chicago and Atlanta. He’s been with the company since its inception and thoroughly enjoys helping clients by providing them with the tools to control their costs and reduce premiums over time. His funniest memories are all centered around performing karaoke for clients after dinner at the numerous board meetings and workshops. He absolutely loves to sing! He is most proud of the fact that his team is a group of committed, experienced professionals that excel at providing excellent service, and they consistently achieve 98% retentions year over year. When he’s not at work, he spends time with his wife and children and typically walks six miles a day, using the time to listen to a Ted Talk, leadership, sports or money podcast.

Our last spotlight goes to Matt Atkinson, senior vice president in charge of new business development. Matt has a team of professionals that manage all production and sales across the U.S. Some of his favorite work moments are when the sales team gets together to unwind and have dinner together, typically at sales meetings or large company events. Since they’re scattered across the U.S., it’s great to have that face time together. Matt’s been with the company for nine years and joined Artex after working at two other brokerage firms. He says, “There is no better place to work than at Artex and at our parent company, Gallagher. There is so much opportunity, as long as you’re committed to working hard.” When he’s not at work, you can find Matt spending time with his family, on the golf course (usually work related) or on the ski slopes with his wife. They’re hoping to teach their two young daughters the love of the sport in a few years.

Fun Facts about Chicago:

  • You can see four states from the top of the Willis Tower, Chicago’s tallest building.
  • Chicago, which is known as the Windy City, wasn’t named that due to actual wind ― it refers to the reputation of local politicians who were known to constantly brag about themselves and were said to be full of hot air.
  • Ranked “Best Big City in the U.S.” for four straight years by Condé Nast Traveler.
  • It’s home to the world’s largest Tiffany dome, found inside the Chicago Cultural Center, which was built in 1897 and was the city’s first public library.
  • Máximo the Titanosaur, the largest dinosaur known to man, and SUE, the largest and most complete T.rex specimen in the country, are both on display at the Field Museum of Natural History.
  • Chicago’s downtown area is known as “The Loop,” which refers to the area encircled by the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) elevated (‘L’) train tracks.
  • The name Chicago was first recorded in 1688, where it appears as Chigagou, an Algonquian word meaning “onion field.”
  • Chicago has the only river in the world that flows backwards. In 1900, Chicago successfully completed a massive and highly innovative engineering project, reversing the flow of the Chicago River so that it would empty into the Mississippi River rather than Lake Michigan. FYI: Each year, the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
  • The first atom was split in Chicago, in 1942 at the University of Chicago, launching The Atomic Age.
  • One of the largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings outside of Paris is housed at the Art Institute of Chicago.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest museum of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. FYI: The museum is housed in the only remaining building constructed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition’s “White City.” It was originally built as the exposition’s Palace of Fine Arts.

Looking for a family friendly activity? The city is well known for so many things, including a variety of food.

  • Chicago was the birthplace of the world’s first brownie. Bertha Palmer, wife of millionaire hotelier Potter Palmer, debuted the recipe for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. You can find the delicious recipe here.
  • You can’t come to Chicago and NOT eat deep dish pizza. But did you know you can make it on your own? Check out this delicious recipe from a Chicago native and Food Network TV host. 
  • Here’s another Chicago specialty from Chef Jeff Mauro ― the Italian Beef Sandwich, which isn’t Italian in nature, it just references the Italian style roll and Italian sweet green pepper garnish.
  • And lastly a Chicago Hot Dog. It’s in a category of its own, requiring a water-bathed Vienna beef hot dog (the company was founded in Chicago), poppy seed bun, mustard, sweet green relish, chopped onions, hot peppers, tomato slices, dill pickles and a pinch of celery salt – no ketchup required. You can make this version at home. 


Follow our journey, including our milestones, as we trek nearly 28,000 miles around the globe here.