Junior Achievement | Central Illinois Business Hall of Fame

Phil Kuhl

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Founder/Retired CEO
Kuhl Insurance

Phil Kuhl was born in Miles , Iowa a community of 350, in 1940. He has 6 younger sisters, all of whom lived in a very modest 3 bedroom home. At age 4, he started 1st grade as his father had joined the Navy, where he served in the Pacific during WWII. Graduating from a small school in 1957 at age 16, he left Miles, Iowa, to attend Loras College in Dubuqe Iowa.

Phil’s work career began as a paper boy for the Des Moines Register, a route he worked until graduation from high school in 1957. Much of his basic business training came from serving those customers as well as working in the family grocery / general store.

In 1961, Phil married the love of his life, Barbara. They have 3 children; JoDee, Kari and Mike. The joy of their lives today are their 5 grandchildren. Emma Zern, a recent graduate from Northern Iowa; Pete Kuhl, senior at the University of Wisconsin; Jack Zern, a senior at University of Dayton; Tommy Kuhl, a sophomore at the University of Illinois; and Joe Zern, a freshman at the University of Dayton.

His 7 year college path was irregular at best. Starting at age 16, getting married at age 20, and needing to pay for his own education all contributed to a complex educational experience. However, a desire to become a JC Penney Manager drew him back to college to pursue that
path. At age 27, that path took a different direction when he took a sales position with Employers Insurance of Wausau in Peoria working in the Commercial Casualty Insurance field.

After 7 years, he left that company for a brief stay as a self-employed “broker” associated with the JL Hubbard Company out of Decatur. That company was sold, leaving Phil without a job in 1979. It was then he started Kuhl Insurance (Kuhl & Company) in Morton.

Kuhl Insurance barely survived through the early 1980s as the local economy was under extreme stress. Those lessons learned during those difficult times provided a great platform to grow and prosper into the great company they are today.

Personally, Phil is a servant leader who cares deeply about his employees, his customers, and the community. He has served on several boards but is most proud of getting the Morton Community Foundation started. Other strong community interests include serving on the Board of the Illinois Central College Educational Foundation, starting the Central Illinois Banjo Club, formation of the Morton Fine Arts Association, Morton Chamber of Commerce, and EDC. Phil loves to play the banjo, play golf with friends and spend time at their lake home. Mostly he enjoys spending time with his grandchildren. Retired today, he spends the winter months at their home at The Villages, Florida.

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