By Gabrielle Fimbres
Leading a major insurance agency requires Cody Ritchie to spend a good chunk of his time in Phoenix.
But no matter how many times he makes the drive up north during the week, he never fails to come home to Tucson every night.
“I have always been there with my wife to say good night and put my children to bed,” said Ritchie, president of Crest Insurance Group and a 2014 Father’s Day Council Tucson Father of the Year.
“Parenting is our biggest priority. I love my family more than I love my work, and those who know me know I love my work. My office is close to my daughters’ school so I can be there if they need me. Outside my office are two cubicles with my daughters’ names, so they can do their homework.”
Ritchie and his wife, Patsy, met while working at Mueller & Associates, which later became Crest. She was a single mom with two boys, and they became family. The two married in 2000, with Patsy’s sons serving as best men for Ritchie, and the couple soon added two daughters to the crew.
Today, Parker is 24, and in the Air National Guard. Andrew, 22, serves in the U.S. Army. Julia, 12, and Kristin, 10, attend St. Joseph Catholic School, where Ritchie coaches the girls’ basketball team. Andrew and his wife, Amanda, are parents to Aiden, 1.
“I have been very blessed,” Ritchie said. “We have a ton of fun together.”
Ritchie was born in Canada, and the family moved to Wyoming when he was 11. His father was in the energy industry, and they moved frequently.
“I was in three high schools in four years,” he recalled.
He attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie, walking on to the football team and later migrating to rugby. He was nearly done with his business degree when funds ran out. He moved to Tucson in 1987 to live with his grandparents and complete his last two classes.
“I was only going to live here for six months and move to Denver.”
But a funny thing happened in Tucson. He could wear shorts in November and he soon fell in love with our city.
He got his master’s in sports management at The University of Arizona, working as a development intern in the athletic department. He also worked with Mike Feder at the Tucson Toros.
After college, Ritchie went to work for the county, and then signed on with Bob Mueller at Mueller & Associates in 1993, selling insurance.
One satisfied client at Airborne Express became a good friend and soon Ritchie had accounts with the company throughout the United States.
Ritchie made partner, and in 2003, Mueller and his group sold the business to Compass Bank. Ritchie later shared in running the company, which was acquired by BBVA, a multinational bank based in Spain, and the firm continued to grow.
Ritchie approached the bank about buying back the insurance agency over several years, and in 2010, the company was reopened as Crest, with Ritchie as president. It has expanded into Phoenix, with 75 employees statewide, and is licensed in 50 states.
“We have doubled in size and revenue,” Ritchie said.
He is dedicated to making Crest a great place to work, with extra time off for employees at holidays. The company will occasionally close early on a Friday afternoon so staff can go bowling, to the movies or another fun activity.
“Our employees work very hard, and they deserve it,” he said.
Crest and Ritchie have been active in the local community, providing support for UA, San Miguel High School, Tucson Metro Chamber, First Impressions, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Tucson Hispanic Chamber, Meet Me at Maynards, plus youth sports and other organizations.
“My motto is if we do well, we’ll do good.”
Ritchie is also a member of the Tucson Conquistadores and the Rio Nuevo board, and he recently joined Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
He and his family are passionate supporters of the UA and its athletic department. “We are so appreciative for what The UA has given to us and what they have given to Tucson.”
Helping to raise funds for type 1 diabetes research through Father’s Day Council Tucson is important to Ritchie, whose mother-in-law has the disease.
“Anytime you can make a situation better – especially an illness in a child – it’s extremely important,” he said. “I am honored to help.”