Longtime State Farm agency has new head

Jeff Haupts now leads the State Farm agency that Craig Hamilton headed for four decades. Hamilton’s retirement led to Haupts, a Manson native, being selected to take the helm at the State Farm outlet at 116 N. 15th St. He assumed this new role in May.

State Farm is a huge presence in the insurance world. It is more than just and a company that sells insurance, however. State Farm offers property and casualty insurance, life and health insurance products. It addresses the insurance needs of both individuals and business clients. The company also markets annuities, mutual funds and has an assortment of banking options.

According to information provided on the corporate website, State Farm insures more cars and homes than any other U.S. company. It is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies, has 65,000 employees, 18,000 insurance agents and 81 million accounts and policies as of 2013. It sells more than 100 products.

The diversity of the insurance and financial products State Farm can provide makes it a virtual one-stop-shop for many clients. Big is important in terms of financial security, but for many people an insurance company is only as good as the local agent with whom they deal.

Haupts said he sees it as his mission to help people learn about the ways the many products State Farm has to offer can benefit them.

“The biggest goal that I have is to reach as many people as we possibly can and help them based on the products that we have,” he said.

While he is new to the insurance world locally, Haupts will have been with State Farm for five years as of September. He is a product of the company’s Aspiring Agent program.

This relatively new State Farm approach to developing and placing agents is designed to make sure they are well-prepared when they take over an agency, Haupts said.

“They’ve found it is a lot better for the agent and it’s a lot better for the customers,” Haupts said. “You are bringing them from within State Farm so they are already trained and have spent two to five years doing that type of work. It makes the transition for both the customer and the agent easier.”

After graduating from Manson Northwest Webster in 2007, Haupts continued his education at Morningside College in Sioux City. He completed his studies there in 2011, receiving a B.A. degree in business administration. While still a college student, Haupts began his relationship with State Farm as an intern working at a State Farm agency in Sioux City.

“I was there for a year and during that time period I got licensed and became a team member there,” Haupts said. “So, that’s where I got my start.”

He then relocated to a State Farm agency in Ames to participate in the Agent Aspirant Program.

“I worked as a team member,” Haupts said. “They train you and bring you in. You sit in on their meetings. Once every couple months we would meet as agent aspirants from all over Iowa. We could get together and learn from each other.”

Hamilton’s decision to retire gave Haupts a chance to continue his State Farm career near his old hometown. That retirement created an opening in Fort Dodge for someone to take over Hamilton’s agency.

“How it works with State Farm, they go through a hiring process and they select a candidate,” Haupts said. “When one agent retires, they place another agent they see as a good fit in that community.”

The five years Haupts spent learning all aspects of State Farm’s product lines and the skills needed to manage an agency have made this step forward in his career easier, he said.

“If you are going to run a Marathon, you should probably practice a little bit instead of showing up on race day and trying to run,” Haupts said. “That’s what State Farm is trying to do.”

The Manson native said he is delighted to have the opportunity to run a business in Fort Dodge.

“It’s a homecoming for me to get back in the area,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to be back here.”

A big part of the role a State Farm agent plays is helping customers analyze and evaluate how best to address insurance and other financial issues. That in-depth, agent-customer dialogue is a key part of the process according to Haupts.

“Our biggest goal is to interact with as many people as we can in … and help them cover what’s most important to them to make certain if anything happens they are covered,” he said. “I think it’s fun meeting with people. It’s interesting how much of their life that you share. … Partnering with them throughout their lives is a really neat deal. … You see all the good stuff. Also, you are there to help with the bad stuff.

The Internet is an increasingly important way people purchase various products – including insurance. Haupts said State Farm makes it easy for customers to interact with the company online or through local agents where they live.

“With State Farm, you get the best of both worlds,” he said. “We have personal service where you can come in and see that agent. You can do that. If you prefer to do things online and see your agent when you need to, you can do that too.”

About the agency

The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. On Saturdays it is open from 9 a.m. to noon. Appointments at other times are also possible and can be in the office or at some other location if that is more convenient for the client.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do is make ourselves as accessible to our customers as possible,” Haupts said. “We’re here to serve our customers. I want to be here when customers are available.”

The team Haupts heads includes two additional State Farm professionals – Christa Brockman and Josiah Nickles.

Haupts said he is impressed by the economic progress taking place in Webster County and sees that is very good news for his agency’s future growth.

“I think one of the things that’s exciting about coming back here is there is so much going on in Fort Dodge,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities in the community and we’re excited to help families as the community starts to grow.”