Commitment and Community: One Agency’s Vision for the Future


By Jacob Garcia

(Use the audio player at the end of this article to listen to the full interview with Jeff Sargeant, CPIA.)

At Community Insurance Group (CIG), the word “Community” is more than just a name.

“It represents where we work, live, and give,” says Jeff Sargeant, CPIA, the owner and agency principal of this Ohio agency. “We work here; we live in the communities; we’ve also been giving back—anywhere from being a volunteer coach, to opening up your wallet and helping to pay for programs, or spending a lot of time with local charities.”

Jeff purchased the then four-person operation of Community Insurance Group in 1995. Under his leadership, CIG, which focuses mainly on commercial lines, has become one of the largest insurance agencies in West Central Ohio—with three offices and 16 full-time employees.

“I’m a perfect example of just jumping into the fire and seeing what happens next,” said Jeff. However, about 18 years into the journey, Jeff knew that something was missing. The growth of the agency had plateaued, and feeling that his motivation and passion were lacking, Jeff blamed himself for the agency’s stagnation. “The business can only go as high as the leader can take it. I was just kind of sitting there, and I recognized that, ‘Boy, we aren’t going anywhere.’”

Jeff knew that it was time to shake things up. He was accepted into a business mentoring program sponsored by one of the agency’s carriers, and over the course of the next several months, CIG reevaluated virtually everything. “We had to redevelop business plans, marketing plans, even our own personal life plans. Where did we want to see our business in three years, five years, ten years?”

Through this process, one thing was clear. Jeff wanted his agents to be empowered. And he emerged from the program with a new vision statement that reflected this philosophy: “Community Insurance Group envisions successful client relationships based on proven, valued solutions from highly-trained and empowered agency associates.”

Jeff knew that this had to be more than just words on paper. He recognized the importance of empowering his staff with a quality education program. So along with the new vision statement, he introduced the CIG Career Development Track. The goal of this initiative is for all Community Insurance Group associates—Jeff included—to earn designations from The National Alliance. As reflected in the vision statement, Jeff believes that knowledge is power, and this investment in employees is the best way to successfully grow his business.

“It was a commitment that we felt was very important, not only for our existing people, but we want to grow. We want to attract the millennials that are attracted to a career path.”

The following text is the CIG Career Development Track that Jeff created to ensure the career development of his employees and future growth of his agency:

The CIG Career Development Track

Our Vision Statement

Community Insurance Group envisions successful client relationships based on proven, valued solutions from highly trained and empowered agency associates. “Community” is not just a name—it represents where we work, live, and give, through our actions and commitments; truly, “Embracing what it means to be Community.”

These words above are only meaningful if we collectively prove them to our clients on a daily basis. Words such as “highly-trained” and “empowered” can be proven by all of our associates through completion of our CIG Career Development Track, which will be individualized based on your main focus within our agency group. We are collaborating with The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research to allow all of our associates to obtain prestigious professional designations such as CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor), CRM (Certified Risk Manager), and CISR (Certified Insurance Service Representative).

Some of us have already worked hard over the years to secure similar titles, and you will be asked once again to further your expertise by obtaining additional designations. Another benefit of taking the courses is that they will satisfy most, if not all, Ohio CE requirements to maintain your licenses.

This agency initiative will take place over a three-year time frame, and all licensed associates will be required to participate. Non-licensed associates will receive other opportunities to refine their skills during this program. The commitment to live up to our Vision Statement is so important to our future success that we have budgeted nearly $35,000 towards this three-year goal and, more importantly, valued investment in the empowerment of all our associates. Knowledge is Power! You have three years to complete, so plan accordingly—some may be able to finish in two. The important thing is to have a consistent strategy for your pathway to success!

Expense Reimbursement

As a further example of our investment in each of you, we will be covering all course registration fees, exam costs, pre-set mileage reimbursement based on distance from your working office to the class site and back, and lodging costs up to $100 per night (one night for CISR classes, two nights for CIC/CRM); no meals will be reimbursed. The courses are pre-paid and we will continue to fund the programs to The National Alliance so each class enrollment will be smooth. For those taking CIC or CRM, the courses are available through an online classroom with a live instructor—we would like to see you take a blend of classroom and online courses. Much knowledge is achieved through classroom interactions with your industry peers.

Thanks for your involvement in the Career Development Program, and your commitment to making Community Insurance Group the best it can be—embracing what it means to be Community.

Learn More, Earn More

In addition to its renowned classroom and online eduction, The National Alliance also offers the majority of its programs on an in-house basis, tailor-made to meet your needs. If your firm is sending a number of people to training outside of the office, considerable savings can be achieved by bringing the training in-house. Consider the benefits of no travel expenses, less time away from the office, and reduced per-person instructional costs. For details, contact The National Alliance on our website through the “Contact Us” link at the bottom of each page.

Jacob Garcia joined The National Alliance Research Academy in March 2015 as Associate Research Director. He brings with him a background in media and journalism, and produces the weekly podcast, Speaking Insurance.

Comments are closed.

All Rights Reserved. | The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research