By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

As part of my role at Marias, I spend a lot of time on the road visiting companies or attending insurance conferences. Many weeks we host customers, prospects, and partners who visit our office. Through all of this, I get to know a large number of people. And I can tell you the insurance and insurance technology industries are filled with some of the greatest people you’ll ever come across.

Some recent visits really reinforced this for me. As you sit and listen to people talk about their lives, their families, their pasts, and their futures, you get to really know their makeup. And the way they feel about their companies and their customers helps you realize why they’re successful and will continue to be in the future.

During my formative years in the industry, I was on the carrier side. Working for a company with its market positioned firmly throughout the Midwest, I traveled to meet with many of our agents. Most of them were in small towns with only a stoplight or two — the kind of places where, when you walk into the town’s one restaurant and the door creaks as you enter, everyone goes silent and stares for a moment before returning to what they were doing. As part of my travels, I came across an amazing number of the nicest, most interesting people you’d want to meet, the people who are the backbone of this country.

As I moved to the vendor side, meeting with agencies was replaced by meeting with insurance carriers. While there are still a few in smaller towns, many of the towns I visited got bigger. Some much bigger. And the companies got larger, if not much larger.

When I was on the carrier side, I knew we had good, caring people at our company. Now that I’m on the other side, I realize the huge majority of insurance carriers are staffed by these same kinds of people. Kind, friendly, personable people. And it doesn’t matter if it’s LA, the hills of West Virginia, or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These people exist everywhere. A large number of the people on the vendor side, working for insurance technology firms, reinsurers, and service organizations, also fit this mold.

I’m fortunate to have ended up in insurance. I’m not sure many high schools kids are dreaming about careers in our industry. Maybe they should. It’s full of many great people. If you’re lucky enough, they might just end up as lifelong friends.