The "Electric City"
City of Horton
By Darlene Rake
March 6, 2016
As a Crop Insurance Agent, BJ Speer sells 100% crop insurance. This type of insurance protects those in the farming industry in situations with adverse weather, and price and yield declines.
Crop insurance originated in the 1930's through Congress to help those in the agriculture industry recover from the Great Depression and the Dust bowl. In the 1980's, private insurance companies became involved. Today, there is a partnership between the government (which establishes the regulations) and private insurance companies and independent licensed agents who offer the policies to farmers.
Crop insurance is a vital risk managment tool for those in the farming industry. In 2014, over two million crop insurance policies were purchased, protecting over 294 milion acres of farmland. (www.cropinsuranceinamerica.org)
BJ's path as a Crop Insurance Agent was not without some twists and turns. Graduating from Effingham High School, he went on to Highland Community College for two years. BJ then graduated from Kansas State with a degree in Sociology. "When I had finished school, the economy was not good," BJ explained. "I just wanted a job." He decided to take a position at ProAg as an underwriter for crop insurance, answering questions for agents. "I learned the insurance business from that side of the industry," BJ said, "Eventually I went to a different crop insurance agency to work for awhile."
"Talking with my stepdad one day, I said, 'I just want to sell the insurance,'" he continued. "And like it was meant to be, an opportunity came up."
That opportunity came through Paul McLenon, who previously ran the insurance office, and was looking for someone to take over the business. Everything at that point fell into place for BJ, and he took over the office in 2012.
Future plans for BJ include expanding the brand through different marketing avenues. He hopes to make people aware that he is here to serve those in this community and willing to travel farther for those who are not.
BJ has this advice for those who are considering opening their own business: really know your business and what you offer. "I would also suggest living below your means, so that you're prepared as you get started," he added. "The best part of this community is that it's a small town and everybody knows everybody. They're very personable."
You can stop in to see BJ at the Champ Insurance Agency at 106 East 8th Street in downtown Horton, or call at 913-370-1794. You can also find Champ Insurance on Facebook.