Strand Insurance was established in 1925, when Art Strand went door-to-door delivering Currier & Ives calendars to his clients and selling life insurance. Nearly one hundred years later, the agency has grown from a one-man operation to five locations throughout Oregon and Washington. They no longer sell life insurance, but now provide a wide range of coverage, from home and auto to business insurance.

The Long Beach office maintains the small business mindset modeled by Strand, taking time to connect with every client. This is because of hard-working folks like Carole Patterson.

Carole is an agent and manager at Strand Insurance and does her job with heart. She doesn’t see her clients as quotas to be met, but as fellow community members who deserve the best coverage for their assets. And after three decades in the business, Carole knows the ins and outs that make Strand Insurance a trusted community establishment. 

We asked Carole more about her experience at Strand Insurance and her expertise in finding success in business. Here’s what she shared with us:

Why did you choose Pacific County?

I moved here in ‘79.  My mom, sister, and brothers were already here, and I came out to visit once and never left. 

I started at Strand in 1991. Before that, I’d worked at a bank. I went in to pay my insurance one day and they asked me if I would like a job. I said yes, and I’ve been there for 31 years now. 

I’ve since become a manager, helping new agents when they come on board. I’ve also been able to become a partner in the agency with Jim Jansen, the agency’s owner since 2000. 

It’s been really cool to work hard and see it pay off by being able to work for myself. Now I’m able to travel and work remotely if I need to.

What was your mission when you started this business? 

This business has been here since 1925 but our mission today is to make sure our insureds have the coverage they need to protect their assets. We believe in Trust, Integrity, and Security.\

What made you choose your business?

No one grows up saying they want to be an insurance agent, but when the opportunity came to me I thought, “Why not try it?” After 31 years of being in the insurance industry, I still like to get up and go to work every day.

What products or services do you offer?

Business and personal lines are our main thing.

We do every kind of insurance: auto, home, umbrellas, motorcycles, boats, and business insurance.

We quit writing new life and health insurance when it became too hard to keep up with regulations. 

And we’re independent. We have many companies–eight preferred companies–that we can go to. This means we have many options that direct writers–like State Farm and GEICO–don’t have. Which means we have more flexibility and fewer barriers. 

How do you define success?

When most of your business comes from the referrals of your insureds.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business? 

One day I came in to find two dozen yellow roses from a couple of clients I’d been working with. It had a big thank you card for helping them get their insurance on their second home, which they didn’t think they would be able to get. It was cool to see how happy they were.

What is unique about your business?

Our offices are not sales offices. Our priority is to educate the insured’s so they can make a good decision on their coverages to protect their assets

How do you view your role in the community?

People need insurance, and we are here to help and explain how insurance works so they can make a good decision on their coverage.

We also host annual shred events, for the community to come and shred any confidential paperwork they might have. And it’s free! It varies depending on the office, but in Long Beach we do it right after tax season. People really appreciate it! 

If you had a piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?

Don’t give up on your business. It may start out slow, but once the community gets to know your business they will support you.

I hear this all the time because we do business insurance. People will say, “We’re starting out slow… it hasn’t really caught on.” So I tell them to give it some time. 

And get to know the community, because they’ll come to bat for you. If you’re down and out, they’ll help you out. I’ve seen it time and time again. For example, there was an accident where people lost their homes in an apartment fire and didn’t have renter’s insurance, and everyone donated to the Red Cross team to help them out. 

It’s a good community. Once they figure out how you do your business, they will support you. 

Final Thoughts

For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Carole’s experience:

  • Take a chance at a new industry. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it!
  • Hard work does pay off, for yourself and your clients. 
  • Educate your clients. They will appreciate that you care about getting them the best product for their money.  
  • Don’t be discouraged if your business doesn’t catch on right away. 
  • Get to know the community. At the end of the day, they’re your support system.