OIA’s team had the opportunity to sit down (virtually, of course) with Tom Sarno, of the Webb Insurance Agency and OIA board member, to learn more about the agency and connection within the Lima community.
Beck & Sarno Insurance Agency was established in 1942 by Tom’s grandfather, seeding a strong legacy for his family and the community. His son-in-law, Tom’s father, took it over in 1969 and Tom came into the business in 1982. In 1997, Beck & Sarno Insurance Agency merged with a well-established agency, Webb Insurance, which was founded in 1906! Today, Tom’s brother and two sons are working there as well.
Although, it’s wonderful working with your family, it comes with careful instructions that must be followed to promise growth and stability. With family, there’s an organic tendency to be brutally honest, however the recipe for success is to understand when they leave the office, they know to let it go and focus on the importance of family. It has clearly worked for them as they continue to flourish as an agency, a family, and an epicenter for the community.
For decades, the agency has been rooted in community involvement. It’s who they are, it’s their culture, and they all support one another with what’s important to them personally. Their strong family values blur into the community, as there is no delineation between family, clients, and their community.
Every month, during the school year, the agency packs lunches for school-aged children that could go without food for an entire weekend if it weren’t for the Webb Agency helping to feed them. Additionally, the agency provides lunches and essentials for first responders, which has been invaluable currently with the COVID pandemic.
Tom has been the president of the Bulldog Youth Athletic Association to help children prepare for sports and mentor them. Furthermore, he was president of the Grand Lake Chapter CPCU and president of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Lima. Tom is currently a member in the Lima Noon Sertoma Club. Tom and Webb Insurance Agency are deeply committed to their community.
But you won’t see anything in the local paper, or social media about Tom and Webb Insurance Agency’s commitment and involvement in the community because it’s simply the right thing to do – to pay it forward – to ensure your community is not running at a deficit. Just like you wouldn’t let someone in your family fail, Tom and Webb Insurance Agency, won’t let their community fail.
Many in the community are also clients, so as you can expect, community, clients, family – it’s all the same to Tom and you treat everyone with the same care and respect! In fact, Tom recalls a time when a client of his experienced a house fire on New Year’s Eve. Tom rushed over there in his sweats, to ensure they were safe and found a place for them to stay as they started to rebuild the family’s lives again, together, because that’s what you do for family. You ensure they are safe and help make them whole again.
Another extension to Tom’s family is the OIA, which has been a part of his life since he was a part of the business in 1982. He has always loved his time with the OIA, learning from others and now, paying it forward, becoming a mentor for others. He feels he has received so much more from the OIA than he has ever given (which is not true – his contributions are many!!) and feels so blessed to have gained so many treasures from the organization including friends, and years of knowledge that helped fuel the agency.
As parting thoughts to the next generation of leaders, Tom leaves you with sound advice. It’s important to plant yourself firmly into the community, but don’t be so grounded that you become inflexible to the winds of change. It’s inevitable, change is going to happen, and you must quickly adapt and continue to be a sound foundation for your clients, community and family. Take very good care of your people, and in turn they will take good care of your customers – as that’s the most important piece!