Jun 12, 2014 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
If you live in the village of Manlius, chances are you drive past the Webb Agency every day and may not know it.
Although the independent insurance agency has only been at its current location across from the Swan Pond for two years, Lisé Hodinger said she and co-owner Calvin Webb, who is also her father, have been making an effort to make their company an active part of the Manlius community.
“We joined the Chamber of Commerce as soon as we got out here,” Hodinger said. “We’re on the main street and we know people see our sign, but there’s no indication of what we do here and we want to be a part of the community. At [our previous location] in Syracuse, it was a great community too, but you never really felt like you were a part of anything because it’s so big. Here in Manlius, it’s much more welcoming and inviting.”
Webb opened the business back in 1967 with his wife, Janet. They ran the Webb Agency successfully in the building located across from the Hotel Syracuse for 42 years, but after management of the building changed, they decided to move to Manlius, where they and Hodinger both live.
Hodinger joined the family business in 1997. She said was inspired by her father to go into insurance after working for him during summers and outside of school. Webb even helped her find her first job with another insurance agency. Meanwhile, he asked Hodinger to join him at the Webb Agency, but she initially refused because she did not want to mix family and business, but later changed her mind. “I just didn’t feel challenged at the old job,” she said.
For Webb, the idea has always been to keep the business within the family – currently he, his wife and his daughter are the three co-owners.
“There were always other agents coming in and saying they’d like to be my partner,” he said. “Everybody wanted to be my partner, but nobody wanted to pay the price for it. Plus, there’s a question of trust, and if you bring a family member into the business, it’s complete trust.”
The Webb Agency is different from many insurance agencies out on the market today because it’s completely independent. It represents between 20 and 30 life insurance companies and is able to fit the right product to each client depending on his or her needs.
“If you’re working for one company, you can only show your client what that company offers – you have to make the client fit their product,” Webb said. “Whereas if you can pick and choose, you can take care of the client a lot better by offering what fits them best.”
“Each client has budget constraints, financial needs and future needs, and you’re kind of limited with only one insurance company,” Hodinger added. “If someone comes to you with a need, you really want to fit the right product to their need.”
Both agree that interacting with and helping customers are their favorite parts of working in the insurance business.
“You can get locked into sitting at your desk on the computer or shuffling papers, but as soon as you sit across from someone or go out to their offices and talk to them, it’s a world of a difference,” Webb said.
And while the day-to-day duties of an insurance salesperson may seem tedious to some, Hodinger and Webb agree that each day brings its challenges and excitement. Webb remembers one day that was particularly bizarre.
“We had a client – an older lady – she lived up in the Oswego area, and I saw in the paper one day that she had died,” he said. “She had quite a bit of insurance with us and no family, so I called all of our companies and reported it. About two months later, I got a phone call and recognized the voice immediately – it was her! I was so embarrassed. It turned out there was another woman who lived in Oswego who was the same age and had the same first and last name and middle initial. Since then I’ve been very cautious about making those kinds of calls.”
In addition to selling insurance out of its Manlius office, the Webb Agency also markets to many independent agents in the area who need insurance products. While most of their clients live in the greater Central New York area, there are agents selling their products as far away as Watertown, Ithaca, Rochester and Binghamton.
The Webb Agency is located at 216 Fayette Street, Manlius, and sells several kinds of insurance, including: life, long term care, disabilities, annuity and structured settlements. For more information, call (800) 478-3174 or visit thewebbagency.com.