Bill Bailey has had some pretty powerful positions in his life.
In a 22-year career in the Navy, he worked his way up to a post in the Pentagon.
But he never felt more like he was helping people than he did as an insurance agent, when a client, a single mom, got into a collision.
“She had a 1986 Jeep Cherokee that she kept on the road by willpower,” said Bailey. “She got t-boned in an intersection and she had no way to get to work, and she called me. She thought she was going to lose her job.”
Bailey called the insurance company of the person who hit her and got them to pay for a rental car for her until she was able to replace her vehicle.
“I really felt like I saved her day,” said Bailey.
That ability to help people is the reason that Bailey decided to go into the insurance business. Now, at his Farmers Insurance office on Fryelands Boulevard, he is building a loyal clientele and also racking up major awards in his new profession.
Last week brought a significant set of memories back to Bailey. Sept. 11, 2001 was the day that not only cost him friends and possibly almost cost his life, it also marked the turning point in his career path.
The day that a hijacked jet crashed into the Pentagon, Bailey was out of the office.
“I was supposed to be at the Pentagon, but my morning meeting in Washington, D.C. ran late and I couldn’t get back,” he said.
The plane that struck the building left his office intact, but only barely; his boss’s office was destroyed.
“The fire stopped at the wing where my office started,” he said. “As we walked up the stairs, we’d see the signs spray-painted on the wall, ‘ACFD, 9/11.’ When the air conditioning kicked on, you had to cover your coffee cup because of the soot.”
When he was offered an opportunity to renew his contract at the Pentagon, he declined.
“I said, ‘No, I have kids, and the last time I re-upped, someone tried to park a plane in my office,'” said Bailey.
He knew that he wanted to do something to help people. Then another dad on his son’s little league team, a Farmers Insurance agent, tried to hire him. He looked into it and decided to work for himself.
After a stint in an office near Bremerton, he came to Monroe.
For a year he worked out of the district office in the Sockeye’s building. Then in February, he opened his own office on Fryelands Boulevard, right next door to Paesano’s Coffee.
Bailey, who also teaches leadership skills, accounting, organization and resource management at the community college, said that his fondness for teaching carries over well into insurance work.
“We want to show people what is in their insurance,” he said. “I want to show them what their coverages are, so they get the best coverage at the best price; what they need to be covered on, and finding that best value for them. We teach you about what you need to be safe in this economy.”
Different people have different needs, he said.
To meet them all, he offers a range of policies for automobiles, homes, businesses and life insurance, and he can help clients strike the best balance between saving money and getting enough coverage.
“If you own your own home, you have kid and you making a good living, and you are trying to protect your retirement, and you go get the cheapest insurance, you are running the risk of losing everything,” he said.
His clients are very loyal, because he goes the extra mile helping them solve problems and keep their lives secure. And his customer service excellence has been noticed.
Last year, Bailey won a championship trophy, which is awarded to the top three percent of all Farmers Insurance agents in the country based on customer service, client retention and business growth.
“I was also Agent of the Year last year, and the Commercial Agent of the Year,” Bailey said. “It was a good year.”
All in all, Bailey is very happy with the decision he made to become a Farmers Insurance agent.
“I could have gone back to the Navy, but it’s hard to feel like you are making a difference in a cubicle farm,” he said. “This way I get to help people.”
Farmers Insurance is located at 14655 Fryelands Blvd. Ste. 123. For more information, call (360) 794-8581 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturdays by appointment.