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Insurance agency owner enjoys quilting

Tell me what you do in your job?

I recently opened an independent insurance agency in Atwater. We sell and service all lines of property and casualty insurance, such as homeowner, auto and commercial general liability. My job involves meeting with potential clients to review their insurance needs, providing quotes, answering service questions for existing clients, and handling all the accounting and advertising for the agency.

How did you get into the business you are in?

I was working towards a degree in accounting when a large insurance agency in Modesto hired me as an accounting clerk. Like most people, I didn't know a lot about insurance and how it worked. The more I learned, the more fascinating it became. The agency helped me get a Property and Casualty insurance license and my job went from accounting to customer service. Insurance can be confusing and I found I really liked helping the clients better understand their policies.

How did you get the job (or business) that you have now?

I worked for other independent agencies for several years and learned the industry from not only the service side, but also sales and management. My husband and I decided that the natural next step was to open my own agency. Jesse has backed me every step of the way. Opening an independent agency is challenging enough without also being a woman in a predominately male industry.

What's the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is educating my clients on how insurance works and the importance of having good coverage. There are so many different types of policies and a lot of consumers don't know what they have or what they need. It feels good to know my clients are better informed than most.

What's the worst part about your job?

The worst part of my job is dealing with the negative stereotype of being an "insurance salesman." I believe what sets me apart from that image is my focus on fostering long-term relationships rather than making a quick sale. The tough part is getting consumers to see past the "insurance salesman" to the "insurance professional."

What was your very first job?

My first job was doing filing for my dad's alarm company, Tripp Security Systems. My first job away from that was flipping burgers at Jerry's Drive-In in Merced. They had car shows once a month and that was the best night to work because you got to check out all the cars.

How do you feel about the business climate in Merced?

The population in Merced County is booming. There are new houses going up everywhere and new businesses opening every day. It's exciting to see all the growth as long as the economy can support it. It's also important that we stay true to our roots as an agricultural area.

What are your goals for the future?

My goal is to grow the agency into a successful business that I can pass on to my children.