In his nearly 50 years in the insurance industry, George Frazier never expected to receive an award from the President of the United States. That the President would be his boyhood friend from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, was even further fetched. But on May 2, Frazier climbed the stage at the Grand Hyatt Washington before an audience of 800 independent agents to accept a special resolution from President Clinton.
How did Frazier reach this pinnacle of success in the industry? The answer, he said, is service, plain and simple, both to his customers and to his peers.
The approach to service at the George Frazier Insurance Agency in Hope, Ark., revolves around personal relationships. “Personal relationships give you the ability to reach out, to get involved, to serve on boards…be interested in issues,” Frazier said.
He started in the industry in 1954. “Back then agency operations were all hands-on-we issued the policies, endorsements, billings, handled our own claims, etc.,” Frazier said. “Now it has evolved into a technological nightmare. It’s a positive change from an efficiency standpoint, but I’ve seen commissions drop from 25-30 percent to 10-12 percent.
“Other than the sale and servicing of the policy, the most contact has been company-to-customer. That creates an impersonal relationship that’s bad for the industry. We have to find a way to merge the need for the tech products with the need for the personal relationship.”
Frazier’s dedication manifested in a term as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA) from 1977-1978, and in his active involvement on the executive committee from 1973 to 1979. In 1980, he was awarded the Woodworth Memorial Award, the association’s highest individual honor, for his outstanding service. Other activities included directing several committees and participation in the Eagle Squadron, a group of past IIAA presidents.
Frazier said he has “no intention to retire.” As President Clinton joked when he presented the award, “If you’re not term limited-why quit?”
Clinton went on to say: “[Frazier] always gave more than he took…he has been there my whole life.”
Being there is part of Frazier’s whole philosophy. “[Our customers] expect us to be there and we are, but often the company places itself between. My job is not 8 to 5, five days a week-my customers expect me to be available when they need me. In my own agency, I leave and put the calls through to my house. I just love people-I’m a small agent in a small town.”
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