David Steinman believes “the grass is greenest where you water it.” Judging by his employee base at his State Farm branch — 500 W. Wishkah St., in Aberdeen, it’s clearly not just a saying. He means it.
Six of his seven employees graduated from a Grays Harbor high school, with five from Aberdeen High School and one from Hoquiam High School. He said his branch generally runs on 80% local staff who have long-term local roots.
While Steinman, who grew up in South Aberdeen, won’t turn away talented out of state applicants, he said he prefers to hire local. The Aberdeen High School and Grays Harbor College grad wants to keep the younger generations in town.
“Everyone thinks our biggest export is our timber, or Nirvana, but it’s our kids,” Steinman said.
Recently, Steinman, his wife Donna, and their team won a couple of prestigious insurance awards. One award was for being named to the President’s Club.
“It’s the top honor a State Farm agency can receive,” David said about the award his team received for the fourth year in a row. The President’s Club award is handed out to the top 50 agencies throughout the company. Steinman’s team placed 29th out of 20,000 State Farm agencies nationwide.
“This is just mind-blowing to me and it has everything to do with our community that supports our agency,” David said.
The team was also awarded the Chairman’s Circle Award. The award, not the first time David’s team has won it, goes to fewer than 10% of all agencies in the country.
According to David, the Chairman’s Circle Award represents agencies who exemplify excellence in all areas of this business.
One way David tries to help keep the talent grown from Grays Harbor in the area, is he constantly talks to the high school students. He wants to “feed the funnel” so he can be part of the hiring solution here. Part of that is offering good paying jobs at his branch.
“I really feel a passion to help,” he said.
David’s family has a longtime tradition of helping the Harbor. Grandparents Harold and Ann Steinman were local business owners as well. They owned Worth’s Ladies Apparel, in downtown Aberdeen, from 1946 to 1982.
David has kept that reputation of being helpful going. He said he spends a lot of time teaching business owners. As for insurance, it’s a volatile business.
“Insurance agents have one of the highest failure rates,” David said about the business. “80% fail in the first 12 months. One of my priorities is training.”
He called working in insurance a “juggling act,” because it’s hard to balance service and immediacy of claims. And for what insurance agents deal with, they need to have compassion.
“You need to give your customers the best service on their worst day,” David said. “They may have just had a fire, an auto accident, or a spouse who passed away. They may have been injured.”
And then when a natural disaster hits, sometimes it affects agencies, such as David’s.
“We were the only office physically open during that time in January 2022,” David said about the floods that saw record rainfall in Hoquiam, plus rapid snowmelt, king tides and soil erosion. “We were lucky we just happened to be here. We installed sandbags around here. No one knew how high the water would get. It was rough.”
“The sandbags saved my business,” David said.
David wasn’t always an ace insurance agent. He had to learn the business. He mentioned Bob Preble as an early, local industry influence.
“When Bob was 85, he trained my staff when we opened,” Steinman said. “He sold life insurance policies to my parents when I was a little dude.”
Besides his professional roots through Grays Harbor, he and his wife Donna were also the first wedding at Ocean Shores Convention Center in 2006. His relationship with Donna is key to running the business. He said it’s no accident her office is right next to his.
“It’s wonderful to work with my spouse,” David said. “My father and mother worked for 40 years too. He said working with her doubled the time he got to spend with her. I’m a romantic. I adore the time I get to spend with her.”
It’s clear Donna loves working with David, too. Donna, licensed insurance representative for State Farm, also works as a labor and delivery nurse at Harbor Regional Health. She talked about finding out about the awards.
“We were so excited and it’s such an honor to be recognized that way, especially in this small area,” Donna said. “We’re just happy that so many people believe in David. In such a small town too, it’s really hard. You don’t have the large population, obviously, that a big city does. So the fact that so many people here believe in David and support him, it’s been amazing.”
To celebrate, David ordered plaques for each member of his team to hang in their offices. And the team also went to Mazatlan for a celebratory vacation. David gave them the plaques there.
While it’s a hard business to crack, and a difficult one to sustain success, David loves what he does. He couldn’t do so without his team, which also includes he and wife Donna’s goldendoodle, Bear.
“You may not make a fortune in the insurance business, but you can make a profound difference in people’s lives,” David said. “I’m here every single day. I’m the first one in and the last one out.”