Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Management

Producer Profiles: Meet Your Peers

Agents reveal how they got into insurance—and what they have come to love about the profession.

Becoming an insurance agent can be a life-changing event for some, especially when the opportunity turns into a calling. The following six producers may have come into the business for different reasons, but they’re each staying in the industry for the same: to improve the lives of others.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent.

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Eric Croker, agent
Stuber Insurance Agency
Hackettstown, NJ

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

In my original career was I was a chef. I have a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY. I was getting more into the restaurant management side of it and took classes to get my bachelor’s degree. But the timing was rough. It was right around 9/11 and my dad, who was helping me through college, lost his job. I came home after the first year to work and to make some money. My mother, Linda Croker, has been selling insurance for 28 years and has been at Stuber for about 16 years, almost since it opened. There was an opening. Mom said: “Buy my book of business and get clients and join us.”

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

I do like working with people. I’ve always been that kind of person. I’ve been able to humor my customers and I’m pretty good at explaining to them exactly what they’re buying. I like to break it down and make them understand how and what to get, why they’re buying, and how it’s important to their health.

What's your favorite client success story?

I had an older gentleman in his 80s who came in one day. The police had just impounded his car because he didn’t have an insurance card with him. He was a nice older gentleman with a heavy German accent, and he said he thought he’d bought insurance at his auto dealer from a guy named Tony. I’m thinking, who is this crazy old man here? I called Tony and he faxed me a copy of his insurance card, which was with AIG. I called and they confirmed his insurance was valid.

Then I looked over his pricing and told him, “Go get your car out of impound and, if you want, I can save half of what this policy price is—we could save you a good chunk of change, about $5,000.”

This gentleman needed help. He didn’t understand what was going on. Sure enough, he came back like a week later. I told him, “Now you know who your insurance guy is, and now you know right where I am.”

He lived near a farm, and one time he brought me corn. He unfortunately passed away about a year ago.

What career advice would you give new agents? Do you have a 'mantra' for success?

If you take care of the customer it’ll take care of you in the long run. Take care of the customer, give them what they need, don’t shortchange them on coverage. Explain to them why something is necessary. If you try to scam a customer it’s going to come back later on.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

I always loved cooking, but cooking is more of a love. I don’t know if insurance can be a love. Unfortunately though, the restaurant industry as a whole is changing. There’s been a real heavy move toward chain restaurants, and private restaurants are dying. There’s not a lot of creativity, really, being a chef in a chain.

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

I like science, so Stephen Hawking is someone I admire. I’ve seen a lot of his specials. He’s a competent thinker.

What are your hobbies? What do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

I’m very interested in the Mars Rover. They’re pretty sure there’s water on Mars; they know it was once wet. There may also be water on Mercury, frozen water--they’re looking into it. I like that, I follow that a lot. Computers too--I’m very interested in science and technology.

Angelyn S. Treutel, President
Southgroup Insurance – Gulf Coast
Bay St. Louis, Miss.

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

After working for several years as an accounting manager in the oil industry, I took the opportunity to begin working in a family insurance agency so that I could work closer to home and my children. And I fell in love with the insurance industry.

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

I believe that agents don’t sell insurance; they help people. I love the challenge of working with different clients every day to help them obtain the best protection at the best price. I love the challenge of implementing new technologies and more efficient workflows, so that agents can spend more time building relationships with their clients. I love the ability to be an entrepreneur and run my own business from accounting and marketing, to strategic planning and personnel development.

I also love working with and learning from other agents across the nation, as we all strive to become more profitable business people and embrace our challenges to harness new technology and product opportunities, so that we can help more consumers.

What's your favorite client success story?

Actually, it's my own. When I opened my own agency in 2011, it was scary and an incredible amount of work, but it was also very rewarding to get tremendous support from my community, family, and friends. I hired a very talented staff to assist me in my endeavor, and together we are growing and helping more and more people every day. Over the past year, we have acquired two additional agencies and opened a third office. We strive to wow our clients with excellent customer service and offer many choices for their coverages. I love going to work every day.

What career advice would you give new agents? Do you have a 'mantra' for success?

I really enjoy meeting with young agents and getting their perspective on how insurance agents should interact with consumers in the upcoming years. Young agents have a wonderful knack for attracting young clients and they have an innate ability to use current technology, so they will be very successful in the industry. I have learned that an agent gets back what they devote to the industry--in other words, the more involved you are in associations and community activities and the more innovative you are and the harder you work, the more you will succeed.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

I enjoy technology and learning new programs and building web sites and using social media. I also enjoy accounting, finance, and taxes, and working with people and developing staff. I enjoy working in the community and helping people. And I can do all of these things as an insurance agent. 

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

My parents, who taught me that to whom much is given, much is asked. They taught me the virtues of hard work and perseverance. I am very thankful for my many blessings.

What are your hobbies: What do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

Outside of the office, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, as well as traveling and reading. I am not too good at sitting still.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent.

Lorraine Emerick
Marshall & Sterling Upstate, Inc.
Leeds, New York

Years of Experience as an Agent: 30

Primary Lines of Business You Sell: Commercial Insurance  

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

I started in the insurance industry at the age of 16 with the world's largest insurance brokerage firm (at the time), Alexander & Alexander. I began as a file clerk and had a multitude of positions from personal lines, claims, commercial csr to a corporate position in business development. Unfortunately, Alexander & Alexander merged with AON and our branch was closed. At that time I went back to college part time, but still worked full time in the insurance industry. Since my early days in insurance, I have earned various degrees in education and am curently a PhD student in the Educational Theory & Practice program at the State University of New York. My area of study is instructional technology--using computer mediated communication to facilitate learning. I am also interested in the business application of virtual worlds.

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

Interacting with people. It's not about "selling" a product but educating people on their exposure to risk and how to minimize that risk through insurance products.

What's your favorite client success story?

We recently were the consultants for an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a large municipality’s insurance program. Not only was the municipality thrilled with our services and provided us with a written testimonial but the participating insurance agencies (also our competitors!) praised the RFP as the best one they had ever seen.

What career advice would you give new agents and/or what's your mantra for success?

Set goals, embrace failure and learn from your mistakes. Encourage collaboration and creativity as we are all smart in different ways. Capitalize on our differences. If there is a problem that will negatively affect a client, don't prograstinate with the "hope" it will get better. People do not like surprises that adversely impacts them and will respect you more when you strive to work together towards a solution.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

I would absolutely have a career in education.

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

I truly admire the financial guru, Suze Orman, and her ability to logically explain how to take control of personal finances. It is no secret that the normalization of extreme debt has wreaked havoc on the stability of American families. Her famous quote still rings true..."People first, then money, then things."

What are your hobbies/what do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

I recently launched a website, www.playgametolearn.com, to test consumers' knowledge about basic insurance products. Unfortunately, research suggests that many consumers are not effective when shopping for insurance products.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent.

Parker Beauchamp Agent, Beauchamp-McSpadden Inc. Wabash, Ind.

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

Second grade; it was my life’s dream to join the family business. My great-grandfather Ward Beauchamp purchased the agency in 1927 (it had been founded around 1872). I can remember being a second-grader and making plans: I wanted to be an insurance guy.

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

It must be helping people. If you are lucky, you make a friend in the process.

What's your favorite client success story?

They are endless; every client exists for some mutual success. The art is making them successful into perpetuation and getting rewarded for it.

What career advice would you give new agents? Do you have a 'mantra' for success?

Work your [tail] off and deal fairly, and try to remember that you are not that big of a deal.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

I would simply be a dad.

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

Thomas Jefferson, if only for four words: “All are created equal.” Not to mention, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

What are your hobbies: What do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

Mostly, I enjoy being with my wife and son. A far-off distant second is exercising. I’m also interested in preserving local history and get to do so as president of the board of directors for Wabash Marketplace, an organization formed to preserve and promote community and economic development in the City of Wabash.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent. 

Megan Bell Byars
A&B Insurance Solutions, LLC
Nashville, TN
Years of Experience as an Agent: 12
Primary Lines of Business You Sell P&C

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

In art school when I was 20 and working at my mom’s brokerage house part-time.

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

Being approached with unique risks and finding the program and carrier relationship that best suits the clients needs.

What career advice would you give new agents and/or what's your mantra for success?

Learn from mentors. Soak up all the "on the job training" you can. Always put your clients whether it be retailers or insureds before commissions. Treating your client relationships with care will maintain longevity in the industry.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

Writer.

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

I most admire my mom. Years ago my mom entered a world dominated by men and kept climbing. She has taught me everything about this business and been an exemplary mentor, friend, and mom all at the same time.

What are your hobbies/what do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

Spending time with family, reading, yoga.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent.

Jim Fain
Beckham Fain Insurance
Milledgeville, Georgia
Years of Experience as an Agent: 5
Primary Lines of Business You Sell: P&C

How and when did you decide that an insurance career was for you?

The first class I took. I spent 25 years in television radio sales and management. I had no idea I would enjoy the learning and all the complexities of the insurance business.

What do you love most about being an insurance agent?

I learn something EVERYDAY. About a business or my business that helps me get better and better.

What's your favorite client success story?

Probably my having a hard to place repo company. I went out and found a market when no one else would my first year in the business. Been my customer ever since.

What career advice would you give new agents and/or what's your mantra for success?

Work everyday harder than the guy or gal down the street. Learn learn learn. Invest what you can afford in classes CE and otherwise.

What career would you want if you weren't an insurance agent?

First base coach for The Atlanta Braves.

What public figure (past or present) do you most admire, and why?

Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller. Even though they were industrialists, their stories constantly keep me looking at obstacles as opportunities. Truly great entrepreneurs see all down markets, or what others perceive as problems, to be ripe with possibilities.

What are your hobbies/what do you most enjoy doing outside the office?

Spending time with my wife and children, 9 and 4.

Want to share your own insurance story? Click here to tell us about your life as a successful agent.

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