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Q & A With Liz Martin

The following article just came out in IA&B’s July Issue of Primary Agent magazine

Q & A with Liz Martin

Liz Martin, CIC, is president of Martin Insurance Agency in Lancaster, PA. She is also on the IA&B Board of Directors.

Q. Tell us how it all began! You left one of your family’s businesses (Martin’s Hatchery and Poultry Farm) for another (Martin Insurance Agency). What prompted your interest in the insurance industry?

A. During summer break in college, I worked with my uncle at his insurance agency. He was a one-man business and only insured homes, farms, and dwelling fire policies. I really enjoyed meeting people and the aspect of helping them in a time of need. I also saw that there would be great potential for growth in the agency.

My senior year in college, I shadowed a commercial lines producer for a day at a local large insurance brokerage and learned about business insurance, which was very intriguing to me. At that time, I became licensed. I wanted to work in insurance when I graduated, but my dad really needed me to manage his chicken hatchery, so I agreed to do it. After several years of not enjoying that work, I decided to purchase my uncle’s business, becoming the fourth-generation owner of Martin Insurance Agency.

Q. You acquired three other agencies early in your career, soon after purchasing the Martin Insurance Agency from your uncle. What advice would you offer other young agency owners who are considering acquisitions?

A. Part of my growth strategy has been to purchase other insurance agencies, and in February 2017 I purchased my sixth agency. In all cases I first got to know the owner of the agency personally. I feel it is important to really understand what the insurance agency owner wants. Just as in sales, the relationship is key.

In addition, I never purchased an agency without first seeing the business’s financials, including tax returns, and I always had my CPA do a complete financial analysis. The other important component is the people and technology that the agency has in place and whether or not this fits with your organization’s culture and business philosophy.

Q. Martin Insurance Agency does a nice job of educating and communicating with clients and prospects online. How have you seen the relationship between agencies and consumers evolve over the years?

A. We do various kinds of marketing and education. Of course, when I started, the internet was only coming into play, but I immediately got a website up and running thanks to a great client of mine who started his website development business at the same time. these days, we are also active on social media, and this is often the first point of contact with some of our clients.

The relationship is still critical, and we still get most of our business from referrals, but our customers expect a very fast response time because technology allows us to do this. We communicate with our clients however they prefer, but the key is to provide a warm, personal touch no matter how we interact with them – be it phone call, internet, social media, or email.

Q. Tell us about the second family business you oversee – Ironstone Spring Farm – and how you find time to do it all!

A. As the fifth-generation owner, I am very blessed to live on my family’s 85-acre, grass-fed beef farm. We board some horses and have thirty Angus cows that are bred and have calves each year. We raise the steers only on grass and hay and sell the beef directly to the consumer. Our customers want the health benefits and excellent taste of grass-fed beef and love that we are a local Lancaster County farm.

I have a full-time farm manager that does an outstanding job running the day-to-day operation for me. My role on the farm is marketing of the beef and overall management. In addition, my staff at Martin Insurance Agency are amazing. they care about our business and work very hard for the clients and function as a team.

Q. The IA&B team loves office pets, and we understand that your agency has a mascot – a Boston Terrier named Alice. Tell us about her!

A. Three years ago I decided to stop by the Lancaster SPCA. I already had a lab mix, Max, and had no plans of getting another dog. But much to my surprise, I saw a dear Boston Terrier in one of the kennels. When I was little, our family had a Boston Terrier named Beauty, so I have always had a fondness for them. Of course, I had to see this dog and fell in love with her. She had been found as a stray and was very thin. The folks at the SPCA were sure by the way she looked that she had been overbred in a puppy mill.

Alice came home with me and, after a lot of patience and tender loving care, she has become accustomed to life as a pampered house dog. She lives a very happy life during the day with me at the office and in the farmhouse in the evenings and on weekends.