By Christina Harper For The Herald Business Journal
Claudia McClain was a newlywed when she started her Everett insurance business in 1977. She and her husband, Pat, had moved to the area from Southern California when he took the position of Everett Chamber of Commerce manager.
McClain started out on her own working with PEMCO, a company that had a small, regional and very much a family feel, McClain said.
Her other observation about PEMCO was important too: the company liked to give back.
This sentiment has been deeply held by McClain, now president of McClain Insurance Services, who recently received the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington State “Agent of the Year” Award for her leadership and inspiration in the insurance industry.
“That was quite an honor,” McClain said.
As well as the agent of the year award, McClain and her five staff were honored with the Corporations for Communities 2013 award by the Secretary of State for outstanding leadership in the insurance industry and the local community.
McClain Insurance Services is one of five companies on the 2013 list that includes Weyerhaeuser and IKEA.
“This town and all of Snohomish County has been so good for our family,” McClain said. “As we have grown a bit and we have the resources, it just feels right to give back.”
And give back is exactly what this small company of six does on a regular basis by hosting events such as defensive driving classes, shredding and ID theft prevention fairs, electronics recycling, and supporting local causes from Christmas House and Cocoon House to school supply drives and July 4th firework events.
Every June 14, Flag Day, McClain buys new flags so that people can come and exchange their old U.S. flag for a new one.
“The Boy Scouts do a respectful retirement ceremony for the old flags,” McClain said.
Staff at the McClain Insurance Services has a proactive approach to giving. Part of their mission is that they want to find ways to support charities, especially nonprofits that do good work for families and children, ones that educate and support families.
When insurance agent Nick Pembroke and his wife were expecting their first child in 2011, he was made aware that the government program Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that supports low-income women and children up to the age of 5 with nutrition, does not provide diapers.
This inspired Pembroke and other staff at McClain Insurance Services to host a diaper drive.
“It got a lot of traction,” Pembroke said.
People began donating diapers and formula that filled a baby “‘pack and play” with additional stacks on either side. Staff collected between 1,500 to 2,500 pounds of diapers and formula.
“We contacted VOA (Volunteers of America),” McClain said. A truck came and took the supplies away.
McClain credits clients whose support has been invaluable throughout the years.
When a client gives the insurance company a referral, a donation is made to a charity of the month as a thank you.
“It is rewarding,” McClain said. “Clients get to hear about organizations that they would not have otherwise known about.”
The staff at McClain Insurance Services gets 16 hours per year to work with a local organization. One woman did her 16 hours in one weekend. Others opt for lunch-buddy roles that take an hour per week.
“It’s their choice on what they want to do,” McClain said.
Clients have been responsive in many ways, turning up at the Everett office with back to school supplies, and baby items.
“Oh my gosh,” McClain said. “People are so generous.”