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?
ED: 7 months! I’ve been here since January.
2.What brought you to Wells?
ED: I was working with another agency doing sales in personal lines. I was working on building my own agency and they started a merger with a larger agency. The plan I was working towards of having my own agency started to change and so there are some people that I had worked with that were here at Wells. I reached out to see if they were still here, and how they liked it, and I heard glowing recommendations about Wells. There happened to be an open position, so I applied, and the interviews went really well. I liked what I learned about the company, and how they are, so I think it’s a good coordination between us.
3.What do you like most about working at Wells?
ED: I like that it is family-owned, and that the agency has been around for a very long time. Even though they’re moving forward with all the innovations that are available, they’re still very old school. I like that you can run into the people that run the company upstairs, and have a chat about what’s going on, and they’re very supportive. But, I also like that it’s a sizable enough company that has all the available resources to do anything you want and need. So, when people call and say, “hey, can you do this?” and I get to say “yeah, we can pretty much do anything.” So yeah, that’s what I like about Wells.
4.What does your job look like on a day-to-day basis?
ED: I handle the “small business” stuff. I guess what I do is a little different than a lot of what other people do here, in the sense that I work a lot on new business. Any of the new business calls that come in for commercial insurance usually get routed to me. If it’s something that’s too big for me to handle or for our department to handle, I’ll send it to one of our more specialized people upstairs. So, I’m fielding all those calls, and trying to place the new businesses. But then I also have a book of established businesses that I manage on an ongoing basis. So, managing that book of business, working on those renewals, whatever service they need, endorsements, everything like that. I’m basically doing the role of both Producer and Client Advisor.
5.Are there any specific industries or a specific customer-base you tend to focus on?
ED: Pretty much any of the small businesses. Sometimes they call it “Main Street” or, you know, we call it the “Select” book here. It goes in waves – sometimes I’m getting a lot of contractors, or sometimes I’m getting a lot of homeowner’s associations. It’s really just whenever somebody is looking to insure their business.
6.What do you like most about your job?
ED: I’ve always liked dealing with people and helping them. There are some people who come to me who don’t know anything about insurance. They just know they need it, or they have to have it. Being able to use my knowledge, and experience over the years, to walk them through it and to explain “Well, this is what this is, and this is why you want that.” So, being kind of like a counselor to give advice to those types of people is what really I enjoy about my job.
The best career lesson I’ve learned is to be available and be responsive.
7.What is the best lesson you have learned throughout your career?
ED: The best career lesson I’ve learned is to be available and be responsive. There is nothing worse than people getting angry when you don’t call them back. Even if it’s to say, “Hey, I said I was going to work on this and we’d get to the end of the week, but I didn’t get to it yet. I’m still working on it, so I just wanted to let you know.” The more difficult tasks, they’re not going to go away. Sometimes you have to call somebody and tell them their claim is not covered, or, you know, something happened – and if you put that unpleasant task aside, it’s still not going to go away, so it’s best to just, be up front with the client and and get it out of the way. Most times you find that the reaction you’re dreading doesn’t even happen, so it’s best to just get it over with.
8.What is the most memorable moment of your career?
ED: I think for me it was probably Hurricane Florence. I have always handled claims. I come from a claims background from State Farm and some other companies up in the Northeast, and hurricanes were always like a one-off basis. But by the time Hurricane Florence came around, I had been building like my own little – not my own agency, but I had a book of business for about three years, so I had a pretty sizable client base. The amount of people that had claims in that time from Florence, and just dealing with claims on a scale like that – so many people with questions, and working to answer those questions. You know, especially in this area, the thing that you’re always preaching to be prepared for, especially the property side, is, the Hurricanes, the Hurricanes, the Hurricanes. That was for me, that was really intense. I was away during Florence because we had evacuated. So, I was up in Philadelphia, taking and making calls before we were able to get back. That was a pretty memorable thing.
The thing that you’re always preaching to be prepared for, especially the property side, is, the Hurricanes, the Hurricanes, the Hurricanes.
9.How have you used your experience to solve a client’s problem?
ED: There’s been so many. But I guess I’d say in general when someone goes into the sales side of the insurance business, a lot of people come out of college with a background in sales marketing, so they go into sales, and they don’t always know what they’re selling because they learn about that later. I spent about 15 or 16 years in claims and other parts of the insurance business, and only then I started sales and my first sales job ever. So just to have that claims knowledge when people are asking you questions about, “Well, what is this...” and to be able to answer clearly, right up front, “Well this is what that is and why.” Again, just in the claims field, especially with a disaster like Hurricane Florence, to be able to confidently explain the process to people- We file the claim, and the adjuster is going to call you to talk about it, and somebody is going to come take a look at your damage, they’re going to write an estimate… and those types of things. There are so many different specific situations like that – that I am thankful for having that knowledge, whereas a lot of other people who are inexperienced just say, “well, I’ll put the claim in, but I don’t really know what’s going to happen.“
10.What do you like to do when you’re not working?
ED: My family and I live in Kure Beach, and we just do whatever Kure Beach has to offer. We go to the beach and do a little bit of surfing. I like to play disc golf. My wife, Beth, and I exercise a lot. We run and do things like that. I like to do various volunteer stuff. I’m on our HOA board. I’m on a committee in Kure Beach called the Shoreline Access and Beach Protection Committee. It’s a long name, but we do a lot of stuff. Like most recently, we’ve been inventorying all the signs on the beach to see the need to be replaced or old ones that don’t make sense anymore and making sure that those things are uniform. We organize different activities like beach clean up days, and a lot of the stuff that has to do with the shoreline in Kure Beach.
I have three kids – Donald is 11, Clara is 9, and Ginny is 5. I am from Philadelphia, lived there 41 years. My wife‘s mother moved to Kure Beach. After I met my wife, we took a few vacations down here and you know, I was like, this is cool! Then, once we had kids, my wife would start spending almost the whole summer down here. I would go back and forth a couple times, and finally we just decided to move down here for good. We bought a house almost three years ago, and we are 3 doors down from my mother-in-law. We enjoy it a lot. We love the community. Our community is really cool because there’s no weekly rentals, so it’s just mostly families or second homes, and there’s a common beach access so everybody just goes there. Any weekend day, we are usually with 5 or 6 other families and like 15 kids. My 9-year-old has four or five other friends and they’re all surfing and sitting out there on their boards chatting it up. It’s a really, really cool environment.
11. Do you prefer books or podcasts? What is the last book you read or podcast you listened to?
ED: I’m probably more of a book guy. I’m a big Stephen King fan. Seth Rogen wrote a book that’s the last book I read, but I’ve got my eye on a couple others to read soon. It is busy in the summer, so not as much time to sit down and read a book at the beach with 3 kids. Once it cools down a little bit and there’s less stuff to do in the evenings, I’ll see what Stephen King has put out, because he puts out like a book every two months it seems.
12. Best Piece of Advice?
ED: I don’t know if I heard this somewhere, or if I made it up – I don’t know, but it’s something I say a lot, “There’s less traffic on the High Road.” Instead of getting down and squabbling with people, or, looking at something and thinking wow, what is that person doing? Don’t get so bogged down in details or negativity.
My son is 11. He has autism, so I’m often on the other side of those glances you get in a restaurant because he’s making noise, or he looks like he’s not behaved or something like that. So, things like that kind of change you, and allow you to give people grace and the benefit of the doubt before reacting. People might look at my son because he doesn’t communicate like other people. He’s more or less nonverbal. But people assume he must not be intelligent, when he just perceives things a different way. He’s also a big reason why we are here because he loves the beach too. It has been good for him being in a smaller community rather than a big city.
13. How do you define success?
ED: In a larger sense, it’s just being happy. If you are miserable at work, then you are miserable at home. So yeah, you just find something that you can do that gives you work-life balance. Being successful I think is knowing people appreciate what you’ve done for them. It’s not always about dollars and cents, or all the things you can accumulate. If you’re happy in general and people are happy with you, then I think that’s pretty successful. You know, it’s hard to step back from yourself and consider “Am I successful or not?” But you know, I’m happy.