Rod Burkhardt (on left), owner of Knowledge Points, is a client of Ryan Hughes (on right).

By Elisa Santana

Running a business is a huge responsibility that comes with a variety of questions and challenges. How much should you be setting aside to start and maintain your business? What steps should you be taking to make sure your business is successful? How many employees can you afford? What do you require in your employees? How do you make your business stand out in your field?

These challenges and questions are especially true when it comes to insurance, financial planning and benefits.

“First, you need to figure out what [the business] wants to accomplish. Every business has to take care of their employees and business insurance. Everyone needs to prepare for retirement and take care of their families,” owner of Brownstone Insurance Services and LPL Financial Advisor Ryan Hughes says.

Hughes, along with Michael LaBarbera and John Ciko, started Brownstone Insurance in 2003. Brownstone Insurance helps small and mid-size businesses with their insurance, financial and benefits needs. Hughes says they “run the gamut and are a one-stop shop for businesses.”

They provide packages based on each individual need of each business. They handle health insurance, benefit solutions and financial plans.

“I have always been in the benefits business. I spent many years with mutual of Omaha,” Hughes said. “I like the planning side of things. We educate them on what they need to do. It is important to see clients face-to-face. This all started for me in 1989 as a wholesaler. I started college and I knew I wanted to do something that could help people. It seemed like an industry I could be helpful in. Even in high school I liked investments.”

Brownstone Insurance has clients all over ten states. The clients range from businesses of more than a thousand people to businesses of just one person. All three men say meeting face-to-face with their clients is essential in making their company stand out. They sit down with a business to discuss what exactly is needed. Then they begin to construct a plan based on the business’s needs.

He said the biggest mistake he often sees is businesses forgetting about disabilities insurance and what they can truly spend their money on.

“People don’t spend enough time figuring out what it is that they actually spend versus what they are bringing in. You may think you want to buy a lot of things but you need to keep cash flow. Cash flow is king. They also forget disabilities benefits. They have their lives, cars and everything else insured. They forget to get disabilities in case anything were to happen to them.”

Brownstone Insurance Services has two locations—one in North Tampa and another in Brandon. For more information, visit

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