9 Richard Skorupski | Top Producers of 2015
Years in the business: 32
Specialties: Insurance and risk management for nonprofit organizations
What excites you about being an insurance professional?
Initially, I was attracted to the opportunity to meet new people and understand how they do business. I enjoyed learning how a company came to be and how the owners found a way to create a successful organization. As I began to work with social service organizations, I came to appreciate the work they did to support their specific missions and the populations they served. Ultimately, I felt if I was going to work with businesses, I wanted to work with businesses that had a social conscience and served individuals in need. Being an insurance agent allows me to help these organizations meet their goals by protecting their assets.
Name five factors that have contributed to your success.
- A commitment to the industry: I have never enjoyed attending trade shows and handing out business cards, cold-calling and the rest of the ‘sales’ aspects of our business. I believe it is important to be involved and give back to the industry.
- Perseverance: I have always worked in this sector of insurance, but I’ve also worked in other areas with different industries. While you can do a good job with research and experience, you will never be as good as when you fully immerse yourself in a particular industry.
- Taking risks: Five years ago, I left a large national broker to rejoin the principals at Meeker Sharkey, a smaller independent agency. It required leaving behind a book of business I had built over 20 years, and I had to uphold a two-year non-compete agreement. … It was not an easy decision to leave the perceived comfort of the large agency, but it turned out to be the best decision for me.
- Developing trust: I think sometimes we lose sight of the fact that carrier relationships are as much a part of the sales process as finding and obtaining new clients. Once you have developed trust with your underwriters and senior management, it’s much easier to reach mutual goals and go to bat for your clients with any problems that come up, from billing or cancellation to a claims issue.
- Surrounding myself with good, committed individuals: It also helps if they are smarter than you! I really can’t stress how much this has aided me in not only obtaining clients, but retaining them. … The old adage, “You’re only as good as the people you work with,” is really true.
What’s the most important thing a producer can do to develop his or her business?
Picking a specialty, committing to that niche and immersing yourself in it is the best way to succeed. For a new producer who needs to write business, this may be a luxury. But the sooner they can begin to differentiate themselves, the more successful they will be in the long haul.
When you’re not at work, what are you likely to be doing?
Probably the most passionate thing I enjoy to do for pleasure is to scuba dive. I have been diving since the late ’70s, and it always provides great relaxation. It’s probably the one place you can go and not be bothered by the outside world. In addition to diving, I enjoy reading, especially Elmore Leonard gangster novels. I also volunteer for two nonprofit boards, having served as past president of the Union County Educational Service Foundation, and currently as a board trustee for the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey.
What’s the most satisfying thing about your job?
I know it sounds corny, but I do like the feeling of servicing my clients. At the end of the day, we sell paper and promises. If we can provide good advice and help them when they have a claim or an issue that we can solve, it’s a good day.