Skeele Agency, Inc., Manlius, NY
Mike has been in the agency since 1977 and is the third generation in a four-generation family agency in Central New York. The Skeele Agency has a 70% personal lines and 30% commercial lines split, with 13 employees over six locations. An active HawkSoft Online user and supporter, the Skeele Agency has been on HawkSoft since January 2015, having previously used FSC Manager and AFW Online prior to that.
Machor Sage Insurance Agency, Inc., Middleburg Heights, OH
Machor Insurance Agency was founded in 1976 by Dennis Machor. In 1997, Dan married Dennis’ oldest daughter Michelle and soon afterwards, they purchased the agency adding the Sage name to the mix. At an industry function in 2000, a persistent saleswoman from HawkSoft, Linda Anderson, convinced them to take a look at HawkSoft, and they haven’t looked back since! Today, the agency has two locations, Middleburg Heights and Loudonville, Ohio and is about 70% personal lines. Dan is very active in his local Rotary Club, City Club, City Planning Commission, and Chamber of Commerce. When not volunteering, he loves coaching his three kids’ sports teams, shooting trap and bird hunting.
McClain Insurance Services, Everett, WA
Claudia began her insurance career as a life insurance agent for Met Life. 1977 was a year that changed the trajectory of her life: She married Pat McClain, relocated from S. California to Everett, WA, and started her P&C agency from scratch in the unfinished basement of their 1920s bungalow. 42 years later, Pat and Claudia are the parents of two adult children and one “perfect” granddaughter. McClain Insurance Services has grown to a team of 8 agents and was named Rough Notes Agency of the Year in 2014.
Always an “early adopter” of technology, Claudia paid over $2200 for a single Olympic memory typewriter that retrieved stored client form letters from a cassette tape recorder in 1979. By 2002, she was searching for her 3rd agency management system and was blessed to be introduced to Paul Hawkins and Hawksoft. It was a life-changing and agency-changing experience! Hawksoft has become so much a part of the DNA of McClain Insurance Services that Claudia has been quoted as saying that “if the day ever came that Hawksoft didn’t exist, that would be the day that I would sell my agency!”
Over the years, Claudia has referred many fellow agents to Hawksoft. She is most proud of convincing Linda Anderson to adopt Hawksoft in the Ohio agency she managed around 2004. A few years later, Linda was recruited to join the Hawksoft sales team and has gone on to help thousands of agencies achieve operational efficiencies by moving to Hawksoft.
Often a beta agency for new Hawksoft innovations, Claudia is thrilled to be able to continue to serve the Hawksoft User Group community through her service on the Board.
PATRICIA LAMB, CIC
Select Insurance Services Agency, Inc., North Royalton, OH
Pat has worked in the independent agency side of the business her whole career starting in 1971; CIC in 1981. In 1983, she started her own agency, Select Insurance Services, located in North Royalton Ohio. In 2009, she became Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider in NE Ohio. She is married to Greg, who joined the agency in 1988, and has two adult children, Jessica and Christopher.
Pat has held many positions over her career. Of late, she serves on the Grange Insurance Advisory Board for Personal Lines; Committee Chair for HUG of the Heartland’s Regional Conference in 2016; HawkSoft User Group, Inc. formed January 2017 – Executive Board, Secretary.
Select Insurance was the first agency in Ohio (2007) to use HawkSoft. When Pat called HawkSoft she was ready to make the switch because of a strong recommendation made by her Georgia agent friend who had signed up months earlier. HawkSoft said they weren’t in Ohio and couldn’t sign the agency up until they got certified by the Ohio carriers. She convinced them it would be fine and was willing to have their agency be used as a testing agency and would do so without her carriers’ approval first. Keep in mind, HawkSoft wasn’t well known back in 2007 and getting certified was a time-consuming process. Eventually, the insurance carriers caught up to speed after learning everything worked fine. So began HawkSoft in Ohio. Sometimes you just need to take the plunge!
Zeigler Insurance, Brentwood, CA
Dirk proudly served our county for eight years in the United States Navy as an Electronic Technician on Nuclear Submarines, a Navy Diver and a Navy Recruiter. He and his wife Beth along with two daughters have lived in Brentwood for over 20 years. Their family strongly believes in giving back to their community. Dirk also served as president of the Brentwood Rotary Club in 2008-2009 and most currently the Youth Services Director for the past ten years. He is a past board member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce and currently the Chair Person for the Brentwood Planning Commission. After working as a captive agent for 10 years, in 2015 his agency went independent. While at an industry function he was introduced to Hawksoft in January of 2016, and they went live in April 2016. They currently have an office staff of five. Hawksoft has been nothing short of a game changer for their agency.
John Dawson Associates, Columbus, OH
Kelly started her insurance career in 1984 and has been with John Dawson Associates the entire time. Her first role was as a Customer Service Agent, and she is currently a Managing Partner at the agency. The agency staff of 17 users have been with HawkSoft for 10 years now. Kelly has served as a past HUG National Conference Committee Chair as well as a member of the planning committees, a presenter at both national and regional events and is also a mentor agent for HawkSoft. Technology is such a significant role in any independent agency that she knew right away that HawkSoft was the company to partner with! Their ability to evolve and grow is something that she finds invaluable. Kelly refers as many people as she can to HawkSoft and loves to help other agents learn how to get the most out of the system. She is looking forward to continuing that as she joins the Board to help serve the HUG Community.
Cross Insurance Agency, Olympia, WA
If I were to describe myself in three aspects, it would be: passionate, out-of-the-box thinker, and resourceful. Personally I love the sun and making people smile. Traveling is an adventure for me and a priority. I am always on the hunt for great local restaurants, reading whatever peaks my interest, and continually learning something new. Ultimately, I can do a million things in my life, but the most important to me is living and doing things that bring joy to my family and to others. So watch out world!
On a professional level. My name is Celia Cross I fell into insurance in 2002 after graduating from college with a Bachelors of Education, with an emphasis in Spanish bi-lingual education. My insurance career has taken me on a road of adventures from starting at the bottom with Cross Insurance Agency in 2002, from cleaning toilets to now co-owner, with my amazing husband, Andrew Cross, who started Cross Insurance Agency in 1998.
I’ve always had a fascination with technology/software and how we can integrate it effectively into our daily lives, including insurance. Our agency is consistently pushing the envelope of how we can better evolve, in order to stay relevant in the insurance industry. We have grown through 10 acquisitions and hold to a moral and ethical code in our dealing of acquiring. My involvement in insurance these last 18 years has taken me from learning insurance, to being an active CSR/Account Manager in personal and commercial lines, and leading 8 of the 10 acquisitions, IT tech, trainer and project manager.
Andrew Cross, the founder of Cross Insurance Agency has always looked forward and has the belief of continuing to invest in your business. He understood the importance of having a CMS program and signed on with HawkSoft back in 2000. We have never looked back. Our experience with HawkSoft and the changes have been remarkable, not without challenges, but with aspirations of improvements. Our history of acquisitions and multiple locations has allowed us to learn HawkSoft and hope to show others a path to help better improve their agency.
Blanchard Insurance, Altamonte Springs, FL
Transitioning from previous and shorter careers in both Marketing & Advertising and Corporate Operations Management, Mike married into a captive agency in 2003. He quickly received a crash course in P&C over the next couple of years when FL’s 2004-2005 storm season relentlessly ravaged the state where 75% of their clients filed claims with substantial property damage. This early education and immersion into the claims process & the customer experience struck a chord with him and further motivated his passionate insistence on building a service-focused model as opposed to the traditional sales model. In 2006, when their captive franchisor made the financial decision, like so many national captives at the time, to pull the plug on FL after the CAT disruption in the market, the agency essentially restarted from scratch as an independent. During this period, Mike became an equal partner and took over the roll as President & CEO. Now, 15 years later with a handpicked TEAM of industry elite, still at the helm, Blanchard Insurance has grown to become a major player in the FL homeowners insurance market. In the expansion, Blanchard has rapidly developed its Commercial Lines TEAM focused on small-to-midsize businesses and most recently launched a Trucking TEAM. Today, the agency is operating in over 10 states and predominately throughout the SE. As a creative, Mike has always brought a fresh & innovative perspective to the industry.
Handzel & Associates, Chicago, IL
I got my start in the industry like many others by answering the phone and opening the mail. Though unlike most of you, this was my job starting at just 5 years old! I grew up in a first generation agency that was founded by the determination of an immigrant from Poland searching for a better life for his family. My father would frequently bring me into the office to run files, bring him rating books, stamp and open the mail. These memories stuck with me and laid the foundation for who I am today. When the time came to make a decision on how to spend my life’s work, I was at a crossroads. Do I make a career out of my hobby in the automotive industry? Or do I join the agency my parents built as a full-time employee and serve a community I am passionate about supporting?
While I still have a deep passion for all things cars, I chose to keep that as a hobby and step into our family’s agency. Our family name is plastered on our building’s walls, in our community, and felt I had a responsibility to carry this into the future. It was in 2005 when I decided to jump right in, and I don’t look back and wish things ended up differently. I’ve grown to be dedicated to the insurance industry, and bring my deeply analytical and technical skills to our agency and my peers. I’m also proud to say that my younger brother Lukasz felt the same calling that I did, and joined us in our journey to better serve our community. It is his skillset in financial operations that allows me to focus on the process by which we serve our clients and the technology we implement.
I have worked every job in our agency from the entry level positions to becoming an agent, and eventually an executive team member and owner. None of this was handed to me, and I earned the respect of my employees through this dedicated hard work and by never believing a job was too small for me. Through this, I felt we were living and working in an industry that had grown old in its ways with archaic processes and too much paper. I felt it was time to reassess our agency processes and to take a page from our clients books to clear the jobsite and reconstruct the core of our agency from the ground up to enable change. Change in both our employees and how they viewed their work, and change in the systems that supported the agency. I became obsessed with researching tools and tech that were not yet available within the insurance industry and incorporating them into our processes to better serve our valued clients. It was these changes that allowed our agency to grow from 14 to 28 team members in recent years.
Unsatisfied with our old AMS/CMS system which we used for over a decade and always felt behind the time, I set my focus on discovering something better. Drawing on my likeminded colleagues’ experience, I was introduced to HawkSoft. It was the HawkSoft team of Linda, Tiffany and Jonathan that guided us to begin again with a software solution that felt current and enabled me to put in place what I envisioned for our agency.
Our agency has worked within HawSoft for a little over a year now, and it is the culture instilled in the business by the Hawkins family that has turned me into a dedicated supporter and built friendships within HawkSoft. I believe they listen to their users, and my goal as part of HUG is to help support this culture of continuous improvement, and ensure your ideas are heard. To help you with any area I have knowledge on, and continue to hone the HawkSoft product to be the best it can be as a standout product in the industry.
Marketing & Events Manager
HawkSoft User Group, LLC, Centennial, CO
Amelia joined HUG in August 2018 as the Marketing & Events Manager. She reports to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors. She has seventeen years of experience working in marketing and events, specifically in the healthcare and IT industries. She is responsible for assisting the board and the committees in developing regional and national education events as well as growing the HUG membership. Amelia works from her home in the state of Colorado.