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February 5, 2021
Parker, Smith & Feek’s Portland office is over five years old now and has grown tremendously in that short amount of time. We have our own unique culture and client base that is supported by an amazing group at our company headquarters in Washington, and it’s my job to build on that foundation. I need to draw on my connections, reputation, and 12 years in the business to continue find clients and business partners that share our core values and culture.
I actually started off in national account sales for a food processing company based in Vancouver, Washington. I received a great amount of sales and business training as a young professional, but I was traveling all over the country and got burned out after five and a half years of living out of a suitcase.
I needed to step back and evaluate what I was doing and why, and I didn’t see things working out for me long term within the food industry. At the time, a friend of my dad’s had been reaching out to me about transitioning into commercial insurance, so I decided it was finally worth sitting down with him to hear his pitch on the industry. He was the president for a Seattle brokerage and heavily recruited me. I went through several interviews, conducted due diligence, and was on the verge of being set up with a great platform and moving to Seattle…and then a competitor bought the brokerage and the opportunity fell completely apart.
But I was sold on commercial insurance brokerage as the right career fit for me long term, so he helped connect me with the Portland insurance community, which I am grateful for. I went ahead and got licensed in property & casualty and life & health and really started off my insurance career dabbling in both the commercial lines and employee benefits verticals in the Portland office of a large national brokerage.
However, after a few years of battling a tough economy and learning the nuances of a difficult employee benefits marketplace, I decided to look for an avenue to really focus on the property & casualty, which I had become more passionate about. Unexpectedly, I received a call from another Portland-based independent brokerage with the right opportunity for me, and I jumped into it; I spent nine years working with a solid group of technical brokers while building expertise and a book of commercial clientele from the ground up.
I took a few detours early on in my career, but I finally got to the place where I wanted to be and it thankfully led me to Parker, Smith & Feek!
The number one thing I’ve taken with me in this business is to be a good listener and to retain the key information in the conversation. Having empathy for the people I work with, whether its colleagues, clients, or business partners, and understanding their true needs while providing actionable solutions (whether insurance-related or not) has served me really well. It’s all about trust, confidentiality, and long-term partnerships if you want to have success as a broker in this business. Listening is so critical.
Previously in my career, I did everything for my clients. Not only was I a producer responsible for business development, but I also handled many aspects of day-to-day account management, loss control, claims advocacy, and everything in between. I grind at my job and work incredibly hard for my clients, however at Parker, Smith & Feek I’m excited to be able to tap into our team-oriented environment and relinquish some of my previously mentioned responsibilities to our group of in-house experts who deeply focus on these critical service items.
Having a 16-person claims department, a team of dedicated risk control services experts, and a communications and marketing team is an absolute game changer for me to seek out new opportunities and serve my relationships to the best of my ability. Because of the Parker, Smith & Feek platform, I have so much more confidence now going into high stake situations; I know that our deep bench of best-in-class experts are backing me up.
I have a fear of heights. I had a traumatic accident as a kid falling off a high cliff, but I’ve tried to overcome this throughout my life. I’ve paraglided off the Swiss Alps, jumped off a few bridges, and climbed to the top of tall buildings (all with my knees shaking). These are all some of the most mentally challenging situations I’ve put myself in and it’s still a major work in progress.
I have an enormous respect for people in insurance and general business who work in “high” risk commercial verticals. My days following around risk control specialists conducting rooftop inspections and anything related to that are numbered (laughs).
I golf any chance I can get, especially in the spring and summer months. But at this point at my life, I have two active kids and my wife and I divide and conquer acting as the family Sherpas for school, sporting events, music lessons, and everything else the kids have going on. However, the logistics of my kids extracurriculars have become less demanding because of the pandemic, so as a family we have spent a lot more time together playing golf and tennis, and walking our dog Bruno around our new neighborhood in Portland. We also have a passion for cooking, which has gotten a lot more intense since we are at home so much more now. Although these remote circumstances aren’t ideal, it’s allowed us to be much closer as a family and spend time together like we never have before. We will look back and cherish that.
Where are you from? Portland, Oregon – born and raised
Family? Wife, Kelly; Daughter, Fiona (10); Son, Rory (8)
Favorite vacation spot? Oregon Coast in the summer
Favorite musician? Jim James of My Morning Jacket
Portland Favorites? Downtown Portland, Portland Golf Club, Portland Trailblazers, Washington Park