Sunday, January 20th, 2019

S Shopper Stories


SPECIALIZED INSURANCE SERVICES

Where relationships and loyalty are valued

by Kelli Tatum


The team of Specialized Insurance Services. <BR>From left to right: Meredith McCarthy, Jackie Dunnagan, Landon Strawhand, <BR>Amber Wilson, Danny Hobbs, Rebecca Riggs and Joe Pennypacker.

The team of Specialized Insurance Services.
From left to right: Meredith McCarthy, Jackie Dunnagan, Landon Strawhand,
Amber Wilson, Danny Hobbs, Rebecca Riggs and Joe Pennypacker.

Strolling through the recently-opened Chesapeake office of Specialized Insurance Services, one has the unmistakable feeling that there is something radically different about this work space. The atmosphere is open and airy. There is a flow to the floor plan that invites  relaxed strolling rather than frantic hurrying. There are no closed doors or private spaces; instead, everyone on staff can see everyone else.

Managing Agent Landon Strawhand surveys the scene with a satisfied smile.

“The feeling here is very causal and bright,” he observes. “This place just has a good vibe—as do the people who work here. I think of my staff as a part of my family. I’ve known everyone here for years. We all grew up together and lived no more than a few miles from one another.”

Most noticeably absent is an on-site “boss,” patrolling the office to ensure that everyone is doing their job in some prescribed manner.

“All of us work autonomously,” Landon emphasizes. “Everyone here understands their job and what’s expected of them, so they don’t have to be micro-managed. We trust each other; we have mutual respect, and we always aim to keep the lines of communication open.”

Landon first became interested in the insurance business when he noticed the success that his father Milton was having in the industry. That awareness inspired Landon to go into insurance himself.  Milton is now retired to Florida, but for seven years he worked with his son, teaching him the ins and outs of the industry. In 2015 Landon and the rest of the staff came aboard with Specialized Insurance Services to open their Chesapeake branch.


“Everyone here understands their job
and what’s expected of them,
 so they don’t have to be micro-managed.
We trust each other;
we have mutual respect,
and we always aim to keep
the lines of communication open.”

—Landon Strawhand



“I was really drawn to the service side of insurance,” he explains. “Getting to know people and providing a solution for them is what it’s all about; that’s why we are here.”

Specialized Insurance Services provides comprehensive insurance policies to a wide range of professionals—everyone from contractors, roofers, and electricians to social service agencies like home health and group homes.

“We provide services to companies big and small,” Landon adds. “We have coverage for mom and pop shops as well as large corporations.”

 Landon, who specializes in social service and non-profit agencies, understands that sometimes such organizations need more than the Good Samaritan Law to cover them.


“I was really drawn
to the service side of insurance.
Getting to know people
and providing a solution for them
is what it’s all about;
that’s why we are here.”

—Landon Strawhand



“The point of the Good Samaritan Law was to protect those who act in good faith from losing everything in a lawsuit,” he points out. “But one downside is that after a suit is filed, there is a waiting period. During that time, a non-profit could incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. You need to make sure you are providing those organizations with the right protection so that this doesn’t happen.”


Landon Strawhand went to work in insurance after seeing his father’s success in the industry.

Landon Strawhand went to work in insurance after seeing his father’s success in the industry.


One of the non-profits that Specialized Insurance Services has covered for many years is Toys for Tots.

“We have had the account for a while,” Landon notes. “They truly appreciate our work, even though we are three hours away from their home office in Triangle, Virginia. They care most about the relationship, not our location—and that is something to be proud of.”

Because Landon knows that understanding insurance policies and what they provide can be extremely complicated, the team at Specialized Insurance Services are constantly preparing for changes in the options available to their clients.

“We don’t oversell services,” Landon insists. “We educate ourselves so we can give our clients exactly what they need.” Believing that product knowledge is important, Landon is also convinced that office dynamics play a huge role in the success of the business. His co-worker Meredith McCarthy agrees.

“It sounds so cliché, but these people here are my family,” Meredith says, echoing Landon’s sentiment. “Landon and I went to Hickory High School together. He grew up coming to my family’s house every Christmas to see my dad’s toy train set up. I remember when I use to help his mom clean the house! Now, here we are working together!”

Meredith says that working with close friends has motivated her personally and professionally. After graduating from Old Dominion University, she joined the team at Specialized Insurance Services. Today her area of expertise is commercial product lines for the company.

“In my goals for growth, I’ve have had nothing but support from everyone here,” she declares. “When you care about the people you work with, it motivates you to do a good job. It’s so easy to work with folks when you know they appreciate your strengths. I don’t know if I’d have found the same level of support or flexibility working anywhere else. Everyone here has families and responsibilities outside of work, and we all get it. You aren’t judged for needing flexibility in your schedule in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or to stay home with a sick child. Instead, you receive understanding and kindness.”


“When you care about
the people you work with,
it motivates you to do a good job.
It’s so easy to work with folks
when you know they
appreciate your strengths.”

 —Meredith McCarthy



 Meredith believes the positive work environment diminishes personal stress so she and her co-workers can focus on their jobs and be more productive.

 “That’s why it’s important that all of us understand each facet of the business,” she continues. “If someone is out, there is always someone else prepared to cover. Though we are a smaller agency, I think that we have great customer service—making us the best of the best. We take care of each other and our clients.”

Amber Wilson—also an account manager at Specialized Insurance Services—shares in Meredith’s enthusiasm.


“Because our team is so well-rounded
in our knowledge of insurance,
and because of our office dynamics
and work ethic, I believe that we
have something very special to offer.”

 —Amber Wilson



“We have a very diverse group of clients, which makes every day different,” she remarks. “One company’s insurance needs will not match another’s. Because our team is so well-rounded in our knowledge of insurance, and because of our office dynamics and work ethic, I believe that we have something very special to offer. I have never experienced this kind of environment at other jobs. It’s truly unique. I knew my co-workers before I got here—which makes my job even more fun. We are friends outside of the office, too. We enjoy getting together for cookouts and concerts. They are a fun group to be around.”

Joe Pennypacker—a commercial producer in sales with the company—grew up the house behind Landon’s. After graduating from Old Dominion University with a degree in business, he completed an internship with Landon’s father.. He has been with the Specialized Insurance Services since its founding. He, too, sees his co-workers as an extension of his family.


From left: Amber Wilson, Landon Strawhand, Meredith McCarthy and Joe Pennypacker <BR>were friends for years before coming on board with Special Insurance Services.

From left: Amber Wilson, Landon Strawhand, Meredith McCarthy and Joe Pennypacker
were friends for years before coming on board with Special Insurance Services.

“We all get together outside of work regularly,” he says. “It really strengthens us as a team. Being so close-knit is definitely a driving factor.” Though the company has many established accounts, Joe works to bring in new business every day. “No one day is exactly the same as any other,” he notes. “It’s nice to have the freedom to focus on whichever type of business I want on any given day. We deal in such a wide-range of services, it’s hard to find a business that  wouldn’t benefit from what we offer. I enjoy being a resource to companies.”


“We deal in such a wide-range of services,
it’s hard to find a business that wouldn’t benefit
from what we offer.
I enjoy being a resource to companies.”

—Joe Pennypacker



The staff at Specialized Insurance Services are not the only ones singing the company’s praises.  Client and business owner Christopher Albright remembers Landon as a standout among the insurance agents seeking his business. It was Landon’s hands-on approach that most impressed Chris. Eight years later, Chris now says he wouldn’t think of using anyone else for the commercial housekeeping company he and his brother own and operate.

“I learned early in our relationship that our styles of doing business mirrored one another’s,” Chris explains. After his second year with Specialized Insurance Services, Chris decided that there was no need to seek bids from other insurance companies. He knew he was getting competitive prices and outstanding customer service with Specialized.

“It’s refreshing to have an agent who values relationships and loyalty as much as I do,” he declares. “Specialized Insurance Services is an extension of my business. This group practices what they preach, and I know they are always going to look out for me. In fact, they’re three steps ahead of me most of the time! They often anticipate my needs before I call them.  As a small business owner, it’s so helpful getting the information I need in a timely manner. It’s one less thing that I have to worry about. I couldn’t be happier! Longevity and relationships should mean something to businesses. Unfortunately, that’s not often the case. But I feel that with Specialized, and it feels like home. I appreciate calling their office and recognizing the friendly, familiar voice answering the phone. And I can always speak directly to Landon when I need to. He has always given me his attention and respect. What more can you ask for?” As a small business owner, Chris says the support he has received has been especially valuable. “I recommend Specialized to everyone,” he says. “Our relationship is a true partnership. Landon’s not just my agent; he’s my partner.”
 

“Specialized Insurance Services
is an extension of my business.
This group practices what they preach...
I know they are always
going to look out for me.
In fact, they’re three steps ahead of me most of the time!”

— Christopher Albright



Clients such as Chris motivate Landon and his associates at Specialized Insurance Services to work ever harder to provide clients with the best possible services and products.

“Loyal clients like Chris are why we do this,” Landon says. “We are all about building relationships and getting to know people on a personal level. My team here is dedicated not only to our clients, not only to me, but also to each other. They are hard workers and good people. I genuinely care about each and every one of them; I want to keep them happy and our business thriving. Getting to work with your best friends every day is a complete and total  joy.”




Specialized Insurance Services Inc.

900 Stanhope Gardens
Chesapeake, VA 23320

757-410-5800