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Employee Spotlight: Andy Billingsley

Employee Spotlight: Andy Billingsley

How would you describe your role?

I’m still pretty new, but it’s my job to leverage the reasons I chose to work for Parker, Smith & Feek (private ownership, core values, and non-commissioned sales) in order to provide innovative program solutions and design the most robust, cost-effective, and efficient benefits offerings to attract and retain employees. 

How did you start a career in employee benefits?

I had just graduated from Western Washington University, and I was still in Bellingham figuring out, you know, what I wanted to be when I grew up. I played basketball in a Sunday night league with a guy who worked for a local brokerage. One day we went out to lunch, and the next thing I knew I was working with him and in the industry. I had no idea what lines I’d be working on, and wound up in employee benefits.

It definitely wasn’t a goal of mine, but it’s how I ended up where I am now. That guy and I are still great friends – I talked to him just last week.

Andy Billingsley and his family

If you weren’t planning on going into insurance, why have you stayed in the industry?

When healthcare reform and the ACA was passed, the insurance industry got kind of thrown under the bus and blamed for high healthcare costs. In reality, it’s a lot more complicated than that, and everyone in the industry understands that. I was in the prime of my career when that happened, and it created an opportunity for me to really consult and prove that we were part of the solution to these issues. 

Early on in my career, a client of mine was diagnosed with cancer, and she called me to make sure that the care she wanted was in her network. She had called me before she called her own husband. It really brought everything home in terms of the impact we have on people’s lives.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Walla Walla, which was a wildly different place when I was young. When I graduated high school, I moved to Bellevue to play junior college basketball. I bounced around a bit and finished my degree up at Western Washington University. I really love Western Washington and consider opens in a new windowWhatcom and opens in a new windowSkagit Counties home, but I’m one of five kids and have a huge family over here, so I found myself drawn back to Walla Walla.

In those 20 years that I was gone, everything in Walla Walla changed completely. We’re now the second wealthiest county in the state, and real estate prices are absolutely insane. It’s bizarre.

What is your most treasured possession?

I bought myself a watch when I managed to win a really nice account earlier in my career that I’m quite partial to. I promised that I would get something nice if I made the deal, and I was so proud when I finally did. It may be the only piece of jewelry I own.

Andy Billingsley and his family

Do you volunteer with any organizations or charities?

I volunteer with opens in a new windowJunior Achievement, which is a program that teaches basic economics to kids from K-12. It covers topics that are seriously lacking in any school curriculum, like how to balance a checkbook. When I go in and help teach a class of 30 something goofballs, I always tell them that I help their parents get the card they show to the doctor that lets them get healthcare – that helps the kids understand a bit. It’s a blast and a fantastic program.

What is something your co-workers would be surprised to learn about you?

I jumped out of a plane about a year ago, even though I’m terrified of heights…well, that’s not entirely accurate. I walked out of the plane, on a sort of plank. I didn’t pass out, but I wasn’t exactly brave about it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I am one of the few insurance professionals in the industry who doesn’t golf. I played basketball my whole life, but I had back surgery a few years back, so I can’t do a lot of the things I used to enjoy. Back when the world was open, I loved playing poker and bowling, and I’m not too bad at either. My bowling average is 185. 

Andy Billingsley and his family

We talk a lot about the PS&F difference. How do you make a difference?

From the moment I started interviewing, I could tell that Parker, Smith & Feek is different from every other firm I’ve worked at. Everything here focuses on our core values and placing the client in the center of that, and it’s really amazing to see how everybody – literally everybody – lives by that philosophy.

There’s not one person who isn’t actively doing the best job possible for their clients. I’m still rather new here, but seeing everyone do work like this has really got me excited to get in the game and contribute in a meaningful way.

Tell me about your family?

Between my fiancé and I, we have six kids – three of them are mine and three are hers. We were supposed to get married recently, but she got COVID-19 (she’s fine now), so we had to postpone unfortunately.

Because of our custody agreements, there’s an odd week or two during the summer where there’s nobody in the house. My fiancé and I just look at each other and wonder, “What do we do now? Do we take a nap?”

It’s a lot of noise, but it’s joyful noise.

PROFILE:

Where are you from? Walla Walla, Washington

Family? Fiancé, Kelsey; son, Jackson (16); daughter, Natalie (15); daughter, Kaitlyn (13); daughter, Elliot (9); son, Henry (9); son, Emmett (7)

Favorite vacation spot? Disneyland

Favorite movie? The Big Lebowski (I even have a tattoo of Walter and The Dude)

Walla Walla favorites? Bringing the whole family to watch live music at a local winery, opens in a new windowTranche. I got to play cowbell for them once.

Favorite quote? “The Dude abides.” – Jeff Bridges

Parker, Smith & Feek Communications Specialist, Copy Editor, Sara Brauchla
Interviewed and edited by Sara Brauchla, Parker, Smith & Feek’s Communications Specialist and Copy Editor. She is responsible for editing all published materials, including spotlights, which offer a peek at who our hardworking employees really are when not consulting on our clients’ insurance programs. Stay tuned for her next installment, and refer to our blog or articles page for more of her work.

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