OUR FIRST EVENT
The inaugural meeting of Oregon’s Young Insurance Professionals Association (OYIP) happened last Thursday night in Salem, Oregon. The point of the association is for older agents and company representatives to mentor Oregon’s young and new insurance agents.
One OYIP, Andrew Shepherd is getting ready to start his own agency. He lives in the Portland, Oregon suburb of Gresham. Andrew — who watches his children in the evenings — learned about the event a couple of hours before it happened. Impressed, he quickly found a babysitter for the kids, hopped in his car and made it to Salem on time and ready to connect with others in the industry.
“It is an awesome experience. It is wonderful that you guys are able to connect very knowledgeable people to those of us who are new to the business,” Andrew told Weekly Industry News.
As for the benefits of his hastily organized trip? “I got some good connections that I will be calling later. These are good people to know,” Shepherd said.
Good people to know, indeed. But that’s the point of the Oregon Young Insurance Professionals Group. Saying last Thursday’s kickoff is a success is an understatement. Salem’s Ram Restaurant and Brewery was packed with agents young and old; all there to exchange business cards, life stories and discuss all-things insurance.
Former PIA Oregon/Idaho Agent of the Year, Mike Joy of Sublimity Insurance is one of the event organizers. He’s been in insurance since 1994. Like many of the insurance professionals Weekly Industry News talked with during the evening, Joy said throughout his career he benefitted from an industry that regularly met in events like conventions and conferences.
In those days there was strength in numbers. Joy said that is still true today but networking, and ways for agents to connect with others in the industry has — sadly — declined.
“I think the most important reason [for OYIP] is for younger and new agents to get together and strengthen the independent side,” he said. “Over the last 10 or 15 years agent networking has gone away. I think we need to bring that back to where everybody knows everybody and you get the communication back. There is strength in numbers.”
Like Joy, Red Shield’s Jim Brown — a one-time PIA Oregon/Idaho Company Person of the Year — has been a huge supporter of the PIA since he entered the business years ago.
“You have to bring new blood into insurance. Old farts like me will soon be gone. Without young blood in this industry it is going to die. And we don’t want that to happen”, Brown noted.
Continuing his comment, Brown said, “When I started there was this older group of agents that mentored us young ones. They taught us how to network, and taught us how to be in this business. I wanted to be a part of this OYIP group because we have to perpetuate the insurance business; make sure that these young insurance professionals can take up where we left off.”
Brown’s bottom-line? “A group like this is good for consumers, good for the industry,” and he added “It’s good for business growth. It’s just good overall.”
Sam Patterson is a young agent working at Rhodes Warden Insurance in Oregon’s beautiful Mid-Willamette Valley. He’s brand new to insurance — sort of. Like many who get into the business, Patterson has family in the industry. His father — Mike Patterson — is Rhodes Warden’s president.
An agent for just five months, Patterson said he likes the hours and the freedom of the business. The hours are great, and he’s in a place where he and his wife can comfortably raise their children.
That said, even though his dad is in the business, and he very much appreciates his father’s input into his career, and though he’s quite familiar with insurance, Patterson says he needs to develop his own contacts and find ways to get advice from others in the industry.
“I like that people are here from all aspects of the business,” Patterson told Weekly Industry News. “There are companies here, and people from other independent agencies. I can learn from everyone here. They have all kinds of experience levels.”
Like other newbies attending, Patterson said this is a great event — and a terrific organization to join — for those just starting out. “I’m getting tips and advice and learning where markets go,” he said. “It’s really handy, especially when you’re first starting out. You don’t know where to send things. This gives me people to talk to and connections to give me advice.”
Success in insurance — Patterson notes, and that those who’ve been in the business for a long-time attest — all boils down to relationships and connections, and the good advice that comes from them.
Easton Lort of AIC Insurance in Milwaukie, Oregon agrees. He smiled and said, “I’m trying to find my piece in the puzzle and learn from everybody else’s mistakes.”
“Many of the people here have been in the business 20-plus years so they have a wealth of knowledge. There are things they can steer me away from and I’m all ears. I’m definitely open to their advice. I do know you have to work hard. You get out of it what you put into it,” Lort said.
Like others that are new to insurance, Easton said he’s trying to find his way in this community while learning how he can be involved personally and connect to people in his own community.
Rich Sorem of RGS Insurance is excited about the formation of PIA’s OYIP group. He is PIA Oregon/Idaho’s board chairman. Sorem said this is an “about time” event and is exciting. “I know we’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “This turnout is a testament to that fact.”
He — like others attending the kickoff meeting — believe an organization like PIA’s OYIP committee is good for the perpetuation of the association. “The PIA needs to get young agents to learn about us, and what the association can provide to them as far as learning about the industry, education and the importance of belonging to an association,” Sorem added.
It all boils down to relationship building, Sorem explains, “The insurance industry is based off relationships. It’s important for our clients and for agents getting to know agents. And let’s face it, young agents are the backbone of future of this industry.”
Are you interested in joining the Oregon Young Insurance Professionals Association? Contact PIA’s Joey Leffel for more information about how to get involved. She can be reached at 888-246-4466, ext. 116.