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Former Southwest Airlines CEO Putnam Tabbed Keynote Speaker for IIABA Las Vegas InfoXchange

Business Leader to Address Branding With Independent Agents & Brokers

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 30 - Business and motivational speaker Howard Putnam, the former CEO credited with resurrecting now highly profitable Southwest Airlines, will share his considerable and respected insight on the topic of branding with attendees at the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s (IIABA) upcoming InfoXchange in Las Vegas.


More than 2,500 independent agents, brokers and other insurance professionals are expected to attend this year’s InfoXchange. The premier IIABA annual event will be held Sept. 21 to 24 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Putnam will speak during the closing general session Sept. 24.


Since guiding Southwest through a critical turnaround period in the late ’70s and early ’80s and then becoming the first airline CEO to successfully pull a major carrier (Braniff Airlines) out of Chapter 11, Putnam has become a renowned entrepreneur as well as a highly regarded speaker, author, consultant, commentator and online mentor. His topics of expertise include branding, leadership, customer service, transformation and ethics.


“With the successful onset of Trusted ChoiceSM, branding has never been more prevalent in the independent agency system than it is right now,,” says IIABA President W. Cloyce Anders. “As a proven business leader who has used branding to transform fledging companies, Putnam will provide InfoXchange attendees a wealth of high-powered business advice that will help independent agents and brokers become more focused on branding themselves locally and together nationally.”


Putnam currently is chairman and co-founder of Aircraft Interior Resources (AIR), a commercial airline seat refurbishment company located in Houston. His interest in aircraft began while being raised on an Iowa farm and learning to fly out of a pasture in his Father’s J-3 Piper Cub. He entered the airline business at age 17 as a Capital Airlines baggage handler at Midway Airport in Chicago. Capital soon merged into United, and Putnam held 13 different positions in sales and services before being named group vice president of marketing for United Airlines in 1976.


In 1978, Putnam was recruited to become president and CEO of then-struggling Southwest Airlines. He helped triple the company’s revenues and profitability in just three years. During his tenure, Southwest became the first air carrier to order the Boeing 737-300, which later became the largest selling aircraft ever for Boeing. Southwest has remained profitable in every quarter since Putnam’s arrival and departure, setting itself apart from other airlines.


Putnam was recruited by the board of directors at Braniff International to become CEO in 1981 with the daunting task of resurrecting an airline in financial ruin. He successfully led Braniff through Chapter 11 and the airline flew again in 1984. Harvard University wrote a case study about his experiences at Braniff called The Ethics of Bankruptcy as a model of how to handle stakeholders in crisis. Putnam is himself the author of such books as The Winds of Turbulence, which covers leadership and ethics.


IIABA’s InfoXChange will feature an innovative array of thought-provoking and nationally recognized business speakers and industry-leading panelists, as well as insightful workshops designed to improve agency performance by providing agents and brokers the tools to take their businesses to the next level. InfoXchange also will offer attendees the largest trade show in the insurance industry and numerous networking opportunities for agents and brokers as well as the many industry representatives who will be attending the event.


Register online for InfoXchange or download registration materials by visiting and clicking on the “Events & Conferences” link. For more information about InfoXchange, contact IIABA’s Convention Department at (800) 221-7917. For more information about the Young Agents Leadership Conference that is held Sept. 20 to 22 in conjunction with InfoXchange, contact Leslie Mularski at (800) 221-7917.


Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address:



​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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