PIA Oregon Agent of the Year & Company Person of the Year

PIA Oregon/Idaho has awarded its 2023 agent of the year award at the annual PIA Oregon/Idaho conference. Wendy Abel Hatzel of the Abel Insurance Agency in Coos Bay, Newport, Florence and Gold Beach is the award recipient.

The Agent of the Year Award is the PIA’s way of saying thank you and recognizing that special individual whose accomplishments exemplify the best qualities an independent insurance agent can possess: integrity, dedication and commitment to the members and goals of the PIA. As an organization, we offer no greater recognition than the PIA Agent of the Year.  

Her father, Harry had an agency so she spent her formative years around the business. Wendy started working at his agency when she was in high school. Working part-time, and starting at the very bottom, at first Wendy did janitorial work and some filing. College was next and then she went to work at the agency full time.

She has never worked anywhere else, or for anyone else.

Now she owns the agency and under her ownership, the agency has expanded to several cities. As the company’s owner, she manages all phases of the business from hiring to firing to the training of staff so she doesn’t have to fire.

And she has not neglected the PIA.

For years Wendy has worked hard on behalf of the PIA and its members on issues in the Oregon Legislature and has — several times — testified before committees doing insurance work in the Legislature.

PIA Western Alliance Executive Vice President told Weekly Industry News that she’s surprised Wendy hasn’t received the award before now. “Wendy has been a key to the success of PIA Oregon and has served the PIA in a number of ways. So it’s about time the association recognized her accomplishments as an independent agent, an agency owner and a valued member of the PIA.”

PIA Oregon Lobbyist Lana Butterfield agrees and said she is incredibly valuable to the association’s lobbying efforts.

“Wendy always provides very insightful and informative comments,” she told Weekly Industry News. “We know she is a solid force for the good of insurance agents as she looks at prospective legislation and is always protective of PIA members.”

Like the relationship most of you have with your clients, her clients love her. Wendy’s husband Joe told Weekly Industry News, “If I was her client I’d see her as having amazing insurance knowledge. She really knows a lot of the deep stuff of insurance. She reads the policies and contracts from top-to-bottom to make sure nothing is overlooked. Her clients all love her and appreciate the detailed service.”

Joe says Wendy always knows where she is in the universe at all times. She’s very centered and knows she’s right, and keeps a post on her refrigerator that reminds her that she is right 99.9% of the time.

While Wendy probably isn’t right 99% of the time, the PIA Oregon/Idaho thinks she’s as close to perfect as you can get. There is no better way for us to thank her for years of selfless service than to name Wendy Abel Hatzel the 2023 PIA Oregon/Idaho agent of the year.

Sadly, Wendy was not able to attend the conference and the award was accepted on her behalf by PIA Oregon/Idaho Chairman Chris DeVito.

Scott Esqueda of Oregon Mutual is the 2023 PIA Oregon/Idaho Company Person of the Year.

Each year PIA members benefit from the contributions of time, money and expertise that come from our insurance company partners.  In recognition of those contributions, the PIA honors one individual whose active involvement with PIA helps drive their company to support our efforts with our members.

Scott has worked in insurance in a number of ways for the last 29 years. To say he’s experienced is an understatement. Scott has been a claims adjuster, worked in loss control, risk management, has done underwriting and more.

He got the attention of the PIA when he did a major career switch and joined Oregon Mutual’s marketing team. At that point he became very important to the independent insurance agents of the PIA Oregon/Idaho as he began to interact with independent agents on behalf of his company.

Kim Krogh, ARM, is the Division Manager, Distribution for Oregon Mutual Insurance. She is Scott’s supervisor.

“Scott is an asset to any agency he works with as well as to Oregon Mutual where I appreciate him as part of our marketing team,” she told Weekly Industry News. “His underwriting experience is an asset not only his agents, but to the marketing team.”

She went to say that Scott always defends his agents and his relationship with agents means everything to him.

Judging by the applause from the agents in attendance of the 2023 PIA Oregon/Idaho conference, that is a true statement. It also means he goes above and beyond, and takes any concerns to company leadership when he thinks the company’s decision making on a particular agent issue, or policy, is wrong.

Kim told Weekly Industry News that this makes him very popular with management. His supervisors appreciate bringing problems forward because you can’t fix a problem or a challenge unless management knows it exists.

And — of course — Scott wants things fixed on behalf of the agent as much, and as often, as possible.

About PIA Western Alliance

The Professional Insurance Agents Western Alliance is a membership organization promoting and enhancing the success of independent agencies seeking to grow, learn and be heard within the industry.


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