Written by our owner, Tiffany Nolan:
Growing up I’ve always liked people. I enjoy getting to know new people, learning about their likes and dislikes, and seeing them move through life’s events like graduating high school, choosing their career, having a family, and retiring. I took the ‘normal’ path of obtaining an associate’s degree out of high school, and did great in school. I ended up with a 3.98 GPA and graduated in two years as a Pharmacy Technician, with the future plan to continue my education to become a Pharmacist, which would have been three additional years of schooling. I started my work career at Allegheny General Hospital, and quickly learned a few things about myself. First, I loved wearing scrubs. I didn’t have to think about what to wear, I was comfortable, and I always looked appropriate for my job. Second, I hated shift work. My body just could not get used to working wildly changing hours. Some days I was getting up at 3:30 AM to be at work by 5, and other days I was working until midnight and couldn’t get to sleep until 3 AM. I also didn’t feel like I could grow in my job, as I saw people that had been doing the same thing as I was right then for the past 20 years, and they were only making a couple bucks more an hour than I was, and not doing or being anything different. For some people that’s comforting, but for me I was bored.
After about six months in the hospital, I started looking for a new job. I had no intention of finding a career, just something to get me out of the shift work and more engaged with people. I found a help wanted ad to sell cars. Car dealerships aren’t open 24 hours like a hospital, the pay was supposed to be the same or better, and they offered free training, which upon successful completion I would be guaranteed a job. I took a leap. I sold Hondas in Butler, PA for eight years, which was the start of my sales oriented career path. Selling cars was a blast in my 20’s – I always got to drive or ride in new an unique vehicles, could really get to know my clients and their lives, and I had tons of things to learn with all the new models and new features. I also had an excellent management team at Honda North. My direct boss was Bernie, and he was always trying to help me learn how to negotiate, which was something I totally sucked at. The general manager of the store was Howard, and not only did he help me refine my people skills, but he also helped guide me through life and the changes that you face when you move from ‘having a job’ to ‘having a career.’ He talked me through building relationships with my clients as well as how to handle situations when my lifelong friends and I started taking different paths and having different values and interests. I will be eternally grateful for the business and life lessons that these two people gave to me, where only half of the information was necessary to do my job, and the other half was to help me be a better and happier person. I made great money selling cars, but as I grew up, I realized I wanted a sales position where I could be more involved in the lives of my clients. I mean how many times per year do you really want to talk to someone that sold you a car? Since I still loved cars, I wanted something kind of related, so I decided to pursue a career in insurance. My thought was I’d still get to know when people bought new cars and be a smaller part of that process, but I would also be able to be involved when they moved to a new place, their kids started driving, they got engaged, or when they retired. It seemed like the perfect fit!
I researched companies and found that Liberty Mutual had the best insurance training program, which was important as I didn’t know the first thing about insurance, other than I had it myself and it was expensive and my relationship with my insurance agent was non-existent. It took me three times applying to the company before they would even give me an interview, because I didn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree and I didn’t have an insurance license. Finally I got an interview with the local manager, and I pretty much had the job when I walked out the door, as it was obvious that I would do what it took to be successful, had a bunch of contacts to potentially buy policies from me, and I’m a people person, so interviews typically go really easily for me. I worked for Liberty Mutual for five years, and it was a fun run at first. But, I really wanted to do more, specifically I wanted to have a team working with me where we could be different than the normal relationship, and a bit more personable. Well, that doesn’t exactly work well in a Fortune 100 company, as they have processes and systems that they want followed to a T. That led to me taking on extra projects to help make things better on a bigger scale, and lots of tension between me and my managers. Finally, I realized through the help of a business coach that if I really wanted to have my perfect career, I had to create it myself. That’s when I started planning to open my own insurance agency. I did lots of research on what type of insurance agency I wanted to be, how I wanted to run MY business, and what I wanted to do for my clients. All of that led me to open the doors of i.e. Insurance on April 8, 2015.
Opening and running a business was not easy, as a matter of fact it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked, and the first 18 months I did it all for free! I had to take every penny that the business generated and use that money to pay expenses and keep the business running. My first year the business lost almost $35,000. I paid that money out of my own pocket to go to work for around 12 hours per day six days per week. I didn’t take out any bank loans, but instead cashed out my retirement accounts and spent pretty much my entire life savings on living expenses and business expenses, and worked a part time job cleaning offices at night to have spending cash. But, fast forward just a few long feeling years, and I now have a team of me plus four employees, our gross revenue for 2022 was over 10 times that loss in the first year, I make a comfortable living with unlimited potential, and I’m HAPPY! Not only do I have a great living for myself with plans for my future and retirement, I also have four other local people that I’ve hired to work for me, train them on everything they need to do to be successful, build friendships with them, and can support my local community by doing things that help others. I’ve served on two different boards for not-for-profit organizations, help coordinate and run charity and community events, go to career fairs to help others understand insurance careers, and do it all by my own choice. I love being able to be a part of my local community, and the fact that I get to help individuals and small businesses protect themselves with insurance policies and still get that interaction and being involved in their lives as they change is the icing on the cake!