The Latin American Agents Association (LAAA) will hold its first annual trade fair, “La Feria de Seguros,” on June 2-4 in Los Angeles County.
LAAA first came together in January 1999 in order to provide Hispanic brokers and agents with an entity to look after their interests, mainly because “other associations had ignored their needs for a very long time,” according to Andre Urena, LAAA president. Urena hopes that the first trade fair will prove that not only is there a need for LAAA to exist, but that it is innovative and in tune with its members.
Highlights of the inaugural event include: information on technology, one-on-one meetings with markets, relevant speakers, industry insights, CE credits, legislative and regulatory updates, a trade fair expo hall, great food and lively entertainment. “Basically, it’s an extension of our regular meetings and Christmas gala [500+ people in attendance] with more time and a bigger budget,” Urena said. “On Saturday night, for example, we are having a huge boat take us out on the bay to dance to a live salsa band.”
While most associations, including the bigger and more established ones, struggle to get even 20 people to attend their regular meetings, Urena said that LAAA keeps growing. Today, the association has close to 300 members. “The association has been growing much faster than any one of us had expected,” he explained. “We are definitely feeding a hunger for knowledge in our industry.”
The group gathers for informative and entertaining monthly meetings at Luminarias Restaurant in Monterey Park. “Our meetings are conducted in English and you do not have to be Hispanic to attend,” Urena said.
“Our commitment is this: If you attend one of our meetings and you do not learn something new that can be put to use the next day to benefit your brokerage or agency, then we are not doing our job as your association.”
Although LAAA meetings were initially limited to Los Angeles County, Urena took to the road and headed south for the association’s first San Diego meeting. “It was a success. We had 105 people there,” he said. As a result, the association has planned another San Diego meeting for the month of July. LAAA’s popularity seems to be contagious, as there have been requests in holding a meeting in Northern California as well.
“There is not only talk but movement regarding other chapters,” Urena said. “We started in San Diego and San Francisco wants us. California as a whole is within reach in the next few months.”
But the Golden State isn’t the only one looking to start up its own chapter. Texas agents traveled to Los Angeles to attend an LAAA meeting and to see how the association operates. “They would like to start a chapter there as well as in Colorado,” Urena said.
LAAA hopes to have as much success as its sister operation, the Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies (LAAIA). Located in Florida, LAAIA has been around for more than 24 years and the association is very successful. “What people miss, or in some cases dismiss, is that the Hispanic population is not only huge, but that it continues to grow at an alarming rate,” Urena said.
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