Joe was the co-founder of Lovell Sagebrush Insurance Group, a firm specializing in business insurance and employee benefits solutions
After graduating from college with an English degree, intending to have a lengthy career in education, I took a job as a high school English teacher in Farmington, Connecticut. Between coaching three sports and staying up late to correct papers, I realized I needed something more sustainable. So, in the late 1980s, I took a leap of faith into the insurance industry.
At that time, most major insurance companies had a home office in nearby Hartford. Since no one was graduating with insurance degrees, I found the industry valued teachers and communication skills. I had both.
Hired by Travelers in their National Accounts Division, I did four months in “insurance school” then shadowed an account executive in New York City. It was a robust, technical training process, but as I began working as an underwriter, I saw that communication and the ability to educate are fundamental. The broker role is all about building trust and educating people, and that matched my passions perfectly.
I honed my skills servicing major, national consumer accounts in the Northeast and then went on to work on smaller accounts in a Kansas City division. After 18 months in that division, a few agencies reached out to me because of my national accounts background and technical abilities. Wanting to be in front of people, not in an underwriting role, I joined a broker where I was able to develop my book of business, and over time, become an Executive Vice President.
Eventually, I joined a California firm as their third employee. Within a couple of years, we grew to about 45 employees before getting caught in the mortgage crisis of 2007/2008 due to our bank affiliation – when the bank and its insurance carrier went away, so did the firm.
In 2014 I purchased the remainder of the firm I had managed for 14 years and formed Lovell Sagebrush, with a partner. I grew my book of business through referrals and networking. But with success comes complexity.
When you run your own agency, you also run human resources, compliance, legal, tax, accounting, monthly financials, and IT systems. My skills have always been working with clients and building relationships. That’s the part of the business I wanted to return to.
Selling to Risk Strategies and integrating into their operations took all those functional areas of the business off my plate. I can continue to build relationships and focus on my clients - one hundred percent of whom, I am thrilled to say, came with me to Risk Strategies.
I’m also able to bring the resources of Risk Strategies to my accounts and help them in ways I couldn't have previously. The breadth and depth of products and services is incredible. Having third-party administration, claims, and loss control on staff allows me to go to my bigger accounts and sell services, not just products. I also found that Risk Strategies is a true brokerage firm with an entrepreneurial spirit, not just a private equity holding company.
Since joining Risk Strategies, I'm working with more passion than I have in 10 years. I didn’t realize how much I would like being a part of the Risk Strategies family. Sometimes culture can be a shock, but I enjoy going to work every day. I’m able to get back to the things that I was excited about early in my career: take care of my clients, manage their needs, and grow.
Additionally, I am so impressed by Risk Strategies open embracement of diversity and inclusion. Their strong core values have allowed me to write new business that is more akin to my value systems. Coming from a large and diverse family, I am proud to be affiliated with a company that is committed to D&I as I am, and work for a company that ensures all voices are valued and heard.
I couldn’t have found a better home for my business. I look forward to seeing what else Risk Strategies has in store, as I continue this journey and the third act of my career.