by Patty Jo Sawvel ~
In the early hours of Christmas Eve, Connie Hall received the phone call that no aunt wants to accept. Her 21-year-old niece, fondly nicknamed Sharebear, had been killed by a drunk driver less than one-minute from home. As soon as it was daylight, Connie called her insurance agent Vince Young.
Early the next morning, Vince was on her doorstep with a check from Farm Bureau for half the value of Sharebear’s policy. You see, nine years earlier Vince had helped Connie buy life insurance for her two nieces and now it was a godsend.
“I will never forget what Vince did for me for as long as I live,” Connie said gratefully. “Because he brought us a check immediately, I was able to get our whole family, from North Carolina and Georgia, to Alabama to comfort my sister’s family. And we had the funds to make sure that everyone could be dressed appropriately to honor our Sharebear.”
That happened in 2005. To date, Vince Young has been an insurance agent for 29 years.
“Prior to joining Farm Bureau,” Vince Young confided, “I had a job. But after joining this team, I learned how to really help people and I fell in love with this business.”
His clients can tell. When Fred Brendle had a house fire eight years ago, Vince was more than an agent. He and his wife helped the Brendle family sort out the most valuable items and store them safely.
Because Vince literally stood by his side and rolled up his sleeves to help, Fred said, “If I could get the same insurance at a cheaper price I would not change, because Vince cares for me.”
Vince Young is one of five fully licensed insurance agents at Farm Bureau in Kernersville. As its name implies, Farm Bureau began as a cooperative of farmers, who back in 1936—when Kernersville was mainly an agricultural community—came together as neighbors helping neighbors. The roll up your sleeves, trusted handshake, and old-fashioned face-to-face business model runs as deep as the taproot of a Kernersville pecan tree.
Farm Bureau is actually a membership organization—now open to everyone—with youth programs in the schools, a strong media presence protecting the environment, and a pathway to enjoy farm fresh foods directly from the producers. Agents who offer the full line of Farm Bureau insurance products are trained to cultivate lifelong relationships with their clients. That means being available even when there is not a claim.
Rebecca Morris calls herself the voice of I.F. Cleaning. Her boss does not speak English, so Rebecca calls Farm Bureau agent Ashley Davis when she needs a proof of insurance certificate faxed to a new client. She needs this often.
“Ashley will take care of it while we are still on the phone. She knows how important this is to our business and she treats me like I am somebody. I have never worked with an agent as caring as Ashley,” Rebecca said gratefully.
Margaret and Taylor Lanier, owners of Lanier Builders Inc., appreciate the same attention to service. “We have 26 rental homes, plus our construction company, and Ashley comes to us to get the papers signed. She also helped us get our Blue Cross and Blue Shield Insurance when the government website kept spitting us out of the system,” Margaret shared.
Sometimes people are surprised at just how far their Farm Bureau agent will go to help them out. This happened to Tommy Sprinkle. Through an unintentional error on his part, Tommy’s insurance payment did not make it to Farm Bureau. When his car insurance lapsed, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sent Tommy a fine for every vehicle he owned. Tommy called his agent, Shann Dalton, to see if he could get a refund from the DMV.
“First Shann had to work this out with Farm Bureau and then he had to fight the DMV. It took over eight weeks and he had a lot of hurdles, but he made it happen. Shann is by far the most committed agent I have ever worked with. Now he handles life and homeowners too,” Tommy said.
It seems that people can get so comfortable with their Farm Bureau agents that they can begin to treat them like family—calling them about things that have nothing to do with insurance. That happened to Chuck Williard.
Kerrie Combs recalls, “I had a flat tire at nine o’clock at night and it was freezing cold in Kernersville. I was in tears and did not know who to call, so I called Chuck. He left his family, came right over, and changed my tire. I felt like ‘wow’—this goes beyond bringing value to a client—this is heroic,” Kerrie shared.
By the way, all Farm Bureau agents give their cell phone numbers to their clients. Actually, cell numbers are printed right on the card, and agents answer calls after hours. It is part of the “farming” culture—a newborn calf does not “schedule” its arrival, it happens when it happens.
Chuck received another call too. When Jon Corts’16-year-old daughter got her driver’s license about the same time that Jon bought a brand new car, Chuck recommended a replacement policy for the car. A few months later, the car was totaled when his daughter was hit in an intersection. Thankfully, the side impact airbags saved her life. The replacement policy saved any hassles because two weeks later the Corts were driving another brand new car.
Jon Corts concluded, “I have many friends who are insurance agents. They all want my business, but it is hard to compete with Farm Bureau for service or for rates. Consistently, Farm Bureau rates are 30% lower and I think it is because they are a North Carolina cooperative and they have lower overhead.”
Terry Gaither, agency manager for Kernersville’s Farm Bureau office (located across from Waffle House on Highway 66) loves to hear how his team of agents are making a difference in the greater Kernersville community. As a producing manager, he has some priceless memories of his own. Shortly after he left a machine shop to become an agent with Farm Bureau, Terry returned to his former workmates to offer them insurance. One workmate and friend, Mark Hargett, invited Terry over to discuss his homeowner’s policy. Once the homeowner’s was taken care of, Terry suggested life insurance.
“He suggested just the right amount, enough to pay off our home, care for final expenses, pay for college for our son, and a little extra. It was affordable and we realized that we needed it,” said Mark’s wife, Janie.
Then the unthinkable happened. Mark had a motorcycle accident and died two years later as a result of the injuries.
“I dated Mark since I was 16, we were married when we were 18, and then I was a widow at age 42. I did not see that coming. It was hard, but being taken care of financially helps the healing. I have Terry to thank for that. Now Terry takes care of all of my insurance,” Janie said warmly.
Farm Bureau Insurance in Kernersville supports the value of the local community by sponsoring Little League baseball and local youth programs including college scholarships. In fact, a portion of the $25 annual membership fee goes to the R. Flake Shaw Scholarship, which has been awarded to students in Kernersville and Walkertown.
Award-winning journalist Patty Jo Sawvel can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terry Gaither, LUTCF Agency Manager
Shann Dalton, Agent
Ashley Davis, Agent
Chuck Williard, LUTCF Agent
Vince Young, LUTCF Agent
Homeowners / Mobile
Business / Commercial / Farm
Blue Cross Blue Shield Health
Liability • Incapacity Planning
IRA • Disability • Annuity
719 NC Highway 66 S, Kernersville / 336.993.5490