Navigating a New Level of Service
by Patty Jo Sawvel ~ Eric Tang began navigating his own life at the age of 15. His parents, Kin Wah and Sim Tang, had the vision of sending their son from Malaysia to America. His first stop was Singapore. There, he lived with his aunt and attended high school.
However, his aunt did not mother him. It was up to Eric to balance his school, sports, and even his faith as a Methodist. His self-discipline caught the attention of his principal and Eric was named “prefect,” authorizing him to guide and sometimes even discipline his classmates.
However, Eric did not let this privilege go to his head. Instead, he applied the principles he was learning from his track and soccer coach, G. P. Zehnder. Coach Zehnder proved to his athletes that the team operated at its optimal level only when everyone put the interests of the team first.
“Coach Zehnder was an amazing man,” Eric said in awe. “He treated us like men by being brutally honest, without hurting our feelings. He made us take an honest look at our motives, and he had no tolerance for self-interest or individualism that might threaten the unity of the team.”
Indeed, in 1981 their team won Singapore’s National Championship of Track for the boys division ages 16-18. The victory was a genuine service for their school and the nation. However, Coach Zehnder believed that his team needed to learn another aspect of service.
After winning a district competition, the Coach said he was going to do something different for his team. The athletes thought that perhaps they had earned a rare day off. Instead, he told them that they would spend the day picking up garbage at their school and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Eric and his teammates’ first reaction was that they were “above that.” However, this proved to be a pivotal lesson. Even as their classmates were snickering, teachers were commending the track team. Then, older adults started coming out of their houses to praise the teenagers.
“This caused a shift in my thinking,” Eric explained. “For the first time, I realized that a humble service can be even more valued than a championship.”
Later, when Eric came to America to attend NC State University followed by Campbell University to earn his master’s in Business Administration, he brought these values with him. When he encountered cultural obstacles, he simply asked himself: How can I change myself so that I can be of more service to others?
Immediately upon college graduation, Eric Tang accepted a job in one of the biggest service industries in America—the insurance industry. Though 24 out of 25 people who enter the industry straight out of college do not succeed, Eric Tang has thrived. He, of course, credits his high commitment to service—a new level of service—as the defining difference.
A capstone lesson was learned when Eric processed his first death claim. Only 22 years old, his plan was to get in and get out. However, the 50-year-old widow and her teenage daughter wanted to talk. Finally, Eric humbly admitted that he could not comprehend the magnitude of their loss. As he listened, the widow gently explained that the money from her husband’s life insurance meant that she would not have to get a second job, they could stay in their home, and their daughter could go to college.
“That sparked a passion in my heart,” Eric said gratefully. “When I genuinely listened, she helped me understand that insurance minimizes the disruption in our lives. At that moment, insurance went from my head to my heart.
Since 2009, Eric Tang has owned the Allstate Insurance agency in Kernersville on South Main Street next to Smitty’s Grill. As expected, his trademark value is his service.
When Tyler and Renate Grose arrived on the scene of their teenage son’s car accident (not his fault), the first person they called was Eric Tang. It was 8:30 on a Sunday evening, but Eric immediately drove to Summerfield.
“It was a bad accident and we were overwhelmed,” said Renate. “Seeing Eric’s familiar face, a face that we trusted, reassured us that everything was going to be all right.
However, it did not stop there. Eric continued to guide them through the paperwork and decision making as their son gradually recovered.
James Friend also noticed this “above and beyond the call of duty” work ethic of Eric’s. When he lost his beloved wife, James found that Eric not only helped him with his finances, he helped him go through the grieving process.
“Eric is still helping me,” James said softly. “He shared with me how he lost his mother and father and he is convinced that together we can get through this.”
On a lighter note, routine day-to-day service can be worth its weight in gold to many clients. Naomi Burks said with a laugh, “I don’t have time to wait for good service! I am 72 year old, so I love it that Eric gives me immediate attention when I have a question.”
Eric also helps people plan their retirement. Tommy Westmoreland, who stopped into the Allstate office to pay his auto and homeowners premiums, lingered to have a conversation with Eric Tang about his impending retirement. That led to more conversations over the course of several months until Tommy and Eric both knew what Tommy wanted.
“That was two and a half years ago,” Tommy said proudly. “Eric has earned my trust. I have kept track of how my retirement funds would have done had I left them with the company, and I am making more money and I have more liquidity by investing with Eric.”
Incidentally, Tommy likes the way Allstate handles claims too. Last year, when a windstorm ripped the siding off the back of his house, Tommy first called a contractor. Then he gave the Allstate adjuster a copy of the bid. Allstate immediately wrote Tommy a check.
“No arguing, no fighting, and I got to pick my own contractor,” Tommy said with a grin.
Jack Jennings noticed the same no-hassle service when he recently had a car repaired. But Jack said that in addition to the high level of service by Eric Tang and Allstate, he is impressed with the local staff.
“When I walk in,” Jack explained, “they know my name and they know how to help me. They don’t just care about my business; they care about me as a person.”
Eric Tang is proud of his staff, at his two Allstate agencies in Kernersville and in King. Because they make it a priority to work as a team—service over self—the office “chemistry” is contagious!
Additionally, as the father of three daughters, Ashley, Kristen, and Rachel, he and his wife, Betsy, have made it a point to teach their children the value of taking service to the next level. One means of teaching is through mission trips to poverty stricken areas in the US. There, the Tang girls dig sewer lines, replace toilets, and pick up trash.
“They do not do it because they love the work,” their dad said with a knowing smile. “They do it because they love what their service does for other people.”
Extraordinary service and teamwork are a way of life with Eric Tang and his Allstate agencies. He gives back to the Kernersville community by mentoring teens at Main Street United Methodist Church, supports the YMCA, EFHS, and the Downtown Council, and is an active member of the Kernersville Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce.
Award-winning journalist Patty Jo Sawvel can be contacted at email@example.com.
MORE ABOUT US:
Eric Tang, Allstate Agency
Owner with 24 years’ experience
Daniela Diaz – Office Manager (Bilingual)
Amanda Evans – Sales Producer
Angela Koble, Robin Smith, Paige Smith (King Office)
• Auto • Homeowners
• Life • Retirement Planning
Eric Tang Allstate Agency
838-D South Main Street, Kernersville, NC