At first glance, it seems like Gina Russo’s new Las Vegas agency, Trenchant Insurance Co., has three strikes against it. First, Russo is a woman operating in a male-dominated industry. Second, she’s only 27 years old, although she has eight years of insurance experience. Third, as the mother of a nine-month-old baby, she’s juggling running a business and being a parent. But Russo is still in the game.
Trenchant Insurance opened last October. Catering primarily to clients in Clark County, the agency relies on contracts with American International Group (AIG), Colorado Casualty, The Hartford, Mercury Insurance, Safeco and other carriers.
Russo, a native Las Vegan, attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and started in the insurance field in the city in 2000. For three years, she worked for a captive insurance company and then for an independent agency. “Even though I didn’t technically own the business, I always felt like it was my baby,” Russo said.
That experience gave her the confidence to start her own agency. She received a business start-up grant from the Moms in Business Network and secured financing from Oak Street Funding. Trenchant is selling home, auto, life, health and flood insurance for residential clients, as well as handling business insurance and bonds.
“I have had circumstances inside and outside of my office where people have questions about my authority and knowledge,” Russo said. “But with my overall performance and through education, people gain confidence in my skills. I do a good job and do it well. So when the whole experience is complete, customers can see the job I’ve done, my level of expertise and professionalism, know that I’ve explained coverage well, and leave with the experience that I’ve done a good job.”
Of course, running an independent agency has its challenges. Any agency owner must continually learn new technology and systems and set new goals. “Technology helps keeps processes streamlined for myself and my customers,” she said. She also is focusing on customer retention and marketing, including a customer newsletter, Web site and blog.
“I love being an independent agent because I can offer options. Working with me allows the consumer to have access to multiple companies through one source,” Russo said.
Other agents are also starting new agencies across the country, according to an Insurance Journal report profiling some of the industry’s newest entrepreneurs. The other profiles include:
Florida’s VanDyke Norman Agency
South Dakota’s GSN Insurance
Chattanooga Insurance Agency in Tennessee
California’s Timothy Gaspar Insurance Services
Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC
Bridge Partners in Dallas
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