“It’s going to be a learning curve,” Kiel Anderson said about his retirement. After 27 years, Anderson is retiring from his job as insurance agent for American Family Insurance and passing on the torch to Spring Grove native Jeff Ellingson.
Anderson’s wife, Kristi recently retired from her job at Foremost Farms as well. “She’s liking it (retirement), so I’m sure I will too,” Anderson laughed.
With his offices located in the Rustad Building in Preston, it’s no surprise that Anderson’s predecessor in the insurance business was Donnie Rustad.
“We used to bowl on the same team,” Anderson explained. “He drove me home one night after bowling and asked if I’d thought about selling insurance.”
Originally, Rustad planned to continue working at the offices in Preston and Anderson was going to open a new office in Spring Valley, but right around the time that Anderson received his insurance sales license, Rustad was promoted to District Manager in Iowa for the company. And so, Anderson took over in Preston where Rustad left off.
When Anderson announced his plans to retire, American Family Insurance opened up his position, and Jeff Ellingson accepted it.
Ellingson, a long-time acquaintance of Anderson’s, is excited to be making the move to working in Preston. He started as an insurance salesman for American Family Insurance in 1980, taking over for his grandfather when he retired.
“I never saw myself in this business when I was growing up,” Ellingson admitted. But somehow, a part-time job working for his grandpa turned into a life-long career.
Ellingson will continue to work at his office in Spring Grove, splitting his time between his two locations. He recently hired another sales specialist to work with in Spring Grove, which will help to free up a little more of his time to focus on the Preston office for the time being. “I will be spending a lot of time in Preston getting to know our policy-holders here and the rest of the community.” he said.
Ellingson may be a native of Spring Grove, but he feels right at home in Preston. “The two communities are similar. I come here (to Preston), and I feel right at home,” he commented.
He plans to retain the services of Linda Means as customer service representative in the Preston office and will be hiring another individual to work there as well. “I’m hoping to find someone local or who wants to be a part of the community of Preston,” Ellingson said.
“I’m excited to be keeping Linda on staff,” Ellingson continued. “She knows the people and people will want to see at least one familiar face here.”
The past month or so has been spent renovating the office space in the Rustad Building from floor to ceiling. “We would like to give a special thanks to Kurt Reicks and Sandy Marzolf for putting up with our mess,” Ellingson said about the other tenants of the building.
“It’s all about serving people and taking care of their needs,” Ellingson said. “When I first started (selling insurance), I worked with my grandfather, and his motto was that if you take care of people, they’ll take care of you.”
“My number one goal is to retain our current policy holders and then expand on that,” Ellingson said about his plans for the Preston office. “If someone walks in the door with a problem, we want it left here.”
An open house will take place on February 22 and 23 at the American Family Insurance office in the Rustad Building in Preston from 9-5. “Everyone is invited to say goodbye to Kiel and meet the new bum,” Ellingson laughed.