Jim Miller’s entire career was spent working for one company.
On Saturday, Dec. 31, he will retire after being an American Family Insurance agent for more than 40 years.
“My father was in insurance. He had his office in our home, so I was exposed to that life. It was an easy step to follow – to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” Miller said.
For about 20 years, he worked side by side with his father, the late Gordon Miller.
“He was a great mentor,” Miller said. “What I learned about insurance I learned a lot from my father. I think one thing he taught me was honesty and integrity, to be available for your customers.”
In the early 1950s his father began working in insurance. At that time, the company’s name was Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, Miller explained.
Initially, policies were offered for farm, fire and wind, before the company branched out into other areas, such as auto.
The name of the Wisconsin-based company became American Family Insurance in the 1950s.
Miller, who grew up in Waupaca, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After graduating, he became a licensed insurance agent.
In November of that same year, he joined the U.S. Army. Miller served for three years. When he was done with his service in 1972, Miller was ready to begin working.
Miller’s father bought a building on North Main Street in Waupaca.
“I joined him. We became partners,” Miller said. “We needed more space to serve our customers.”
He remembers that it was common for their office to remain open until 9 p.m.
“One thing that I’ve noticed is in the early days, for my father and myself, we would get a lot of walk-on business for quotes,” Miller said.
Today, people shop for quotes from home, using their computers.
Other changes Miller saw through the years were more regulations.
“Before, I could just pick up the phone book,” he said of making calls to potential customers.
The no-call list meant he had to check that first before picking up the phone.
Miller says the people he worked through the years were great. Over the past several years, Krisann Dailey was his licensed customer service representative.
“She has been my right arm. She has been the best,” he said. “I could not have done it without her.”
What Miller enjoyed most about his career was the satisfaction of knowing that he was providing a product for people.
“Hopefully, they won’t have to use it,” he said. “But, it is there in their time of their trouble and need.”
On Dec. 30, Deb Domask, who is also an American Family Insurance agent in Waupaca, will be the owner of the building where Miller worked.
“She will move over in March after she remodels the interior,” Miller said. “She’s absorbing my agency. There will be one American Family agent (in Waupaca). For my customers, the location and the phone line will stay the same.”