Employee Spotlight – Tony Pagrabs

Employee Spotlight – Tony Pagrabs


Who are the people that our clients talk to, trust, and work with year after year?  Get to know more about our agency by getting to know the people through our Employee Spotlight Series. 

1.How long have you worked at Wells?

TONY: 15 years

2.What brought you to Wells?

TONY: The opportunity and the climate. I came from Cleveland, OH where I was working with a large regional agency doing a lot of moving and storage business. I got wind that Joe Johnson, who used to work at Wells, was looking to retire. Joe was also heavily involved with moving and storage. There are only about 15 or 20 agents across the country that do moving in storage well, so it is a pretty small niche group and the potential fit was good. I had been holding Joe’s business card in my wallet for about a year and a half, and on a cold, rainy day in Cleveland, I called and talked to Harold Wells. Roughly two weeks after that phone call, I found myself by the water in sunny Wilmington, and a couple of months later, I started working at Wells Insurance.

“Roughly two weeks after that phone call, I found myself by the water in sunny Wilmington, and a couple of months later, I started working at Wells Insurance.”

“Glenda Bryan – my Executive Client Advisor, has been a huge part of my success – She is the reason that we have gotten to where we are today.”

3.What do you like most about working at Wells?

TONY: The people. The ability to do my thing. The Wells’ give you free rein, and they truly help you to be successful. The support team is what makes Wells Insurance so great. Glenda Bryan – my Executive Client Advisor, has been a huge part of my success. She has been by my side the whole time, and she was working here at Wells before me. She is the reason that we have gotten to where we are today.

“The Wells’ give you free rein, and they truly help you to be successful.”

“I spend time visiting clients as much as I can, even if it is just to tell them how important they are.”

4.What does your job look like on a day-to-day basis?

TONY: In my stage of my career, my book of business is rather established. The majority of my time is spent helping customers and working through renewals. If they have claim scenarios, we troubleshoot the situation. Overall, my time is really customer focused. I still spend some time prospecting, depending on the time of year and the renewals that are forthcoming. Due to Covid-19, I did not travel as much last year, but in a normal year, I put about 25,000 miles on my car. I spend time visiting clients as much as I can, even if it is just to tell them how important they are.

5.Are there any specific industries or a specific customer-base you tend to focus on?

TONY: I do all commercial work. The moving and storage sector represents about 60% of my day. Although moving and storage takes up a large chunk, I am heavily involved in several other sectors as well. I also work with wholesalers, manufacturers, and some retailers. I have had a long-standing manufacturing account and automotive account over the years.

“My perfect client is one who is looking for a risk management support and advice. These types of clients are just too busy doing what they need to do daily to manage their own business, and they need the risk management advise to help them. Over the years, when they pick up the phone to ask a simple question, I typically already know what the answer is because of my familiarity with their specific operations. Our team really becomes an extension of their business.

“Sometimes solutions can be found in creative ways.”

6.How have you used your experience to solve a client’s problem?

TONY: There was an account years ago that designed and installed gutter systems, for lack of a better term, on bridges. Without saying the company’s name, it had the word “Bridge” in it. We struggled to find him insurance and couldn’t help him because of the word “bridge” in the name- all the underwriters just hated it and wouldn’t even look at his account to learn what he really did. I got an idea and suggested “what you really need to do is change the name of your business.” He was not doing any structural steel or anything else of that nature, so all he needed to do was change the name to get the underwriters mindset off the term “bridge.” During the course of the next year, he called me back and he said, “Tony, the company name is changed…” The name changed to something regarding drainage. We wrote the account. It was simply the underwriter’s perception of his business that put up a barrier and caused him problems. Sometimes solutions can be found in creative ways.

TONY: There’s another situation we are working on right now with a client. Successful companies tend to start out in their infancy, and they ramp up so quick that they get to a point where they look back and there are all sorts of problems in their wake. These companies get so large, so quick, that they no longer have the personal touch with their employees, their trucks, and their operations. They have too many things going on and safety, procedures and protocols fall by the wayside. Typically, what happens in these cases is their losses tend to catch up with them and they have problems with claims. Their procedures lapse and people are shooting from the hip because they have not had the proper training, etc. We have been successful in backfilling appropriate procedures and programs to gain back control of the processes that have always been there, just maybe not formalized and passed down. It’s not that these are bad accounts or bad people, they just need to refocus their energy in the right direction.

“You know, some days you have the radio off, and some days you blare it, depending on your mood. Either way, it is just nice to be out there on the water.”

7.What do you like to do when you are not working?

TONY: I still enjoy time on the golf course, although I don’t play as much as I used to.  I love golfing with my daughter, Emiley, who played collegiate golf at Wofford. I spend a lot of time on the water with my girlfriend, on our boat. If it is nice and the winds blowing in the right direction, we take it out to the ocean, but if not, we take it up the river and just relax. You know, some days you have the radio off, and some days you blare it, depending on your mood. Either way, it is just nice to be out there on the water.

8.Do you prefer Books or Podcasts? What is the last book you read or last podcast you listened to?

TONY: I prefer books. I am reading Hillbilly Elegy right now. The book is about smart, young man growing up in Appalachia, which is cool because I went to school at Ohio University. I also enjoy reading books by authors Nelson DeMille and Stuart Woods.

9.How do you define success?

TONY: I think the ultimate success, especially with raising a family and kids, is to give your kids the opportunity to do better than you did. That is a goal I think most parents have for their kids. I mean, my daughter has turned out to be such a hard worker and good kid, she’ll probably be able accomplish that. Beyond that, success is hitting your personal goals and having a fulfilling life. I mean- work is one thing, but it’s about your overall quality of life as well.  You want to be able to do it all, which is what is so great about this job. Wells gave me the freedom and capacity to be able to see every golf tournament that my daughter played in. I can do what I want, for the most part, as long as I work hard. There must be a work-life balance somewhere in the mix of everything you’re doing.

“Wells gave me the freedom and capacity to be able to see every golf tournament that my daughter played in.”

10.Best piece of advice?

TONY: Just keep doing what you are supposed to be doing because eventually it’s going to pay off. You know, when we land a big account, people might say, “Oh, you got lucky.” What they don’t see is the phone calls and the effort put in behind the scenes to get “lucky.” It is not luck at all. We paid our dues to get to that point, and it finally paid off from something we did three months ago or three years ago. The people that “got lucky” are working their *** off. There is no luck in that.

“The people that “got lucky” are working their *** off. There is no luck in that.”


To learn more about Tony and his role as a Senior Account Executive, and whether he can help your business, reach out to him at 910.251.5460 or tpagrabs@wellsins.com


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