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2014 BEST Company to do Business with in Sonoma County: George Petersen Insurance Agency

Author: Judith M. Wilson
May, 2014 Issue

“We’re very deeply rooted in the community. We like to develop deep relationships with our clients, both professionally and personally.” —Josh Johnson

Strong connections to the community and a commitment to providing superior service make George Petersen Insurance Agency a favorite in Sonoma County and the choice of NorthBay biz readers as BEST Company to do Business with in Sonoma County for the second year in a row. Established in Eureka in 1935, the independent insurance agency’s values are firmly in place. “We’re very deeply rooted in the community. We like to develop deep relationships with our clients, both professionally and personally. We treat each client as an individual, not just a number,” says Josh Johnsen, corporate vice president/partner. “We feel our personal service is what sets us apart from our competition,” he adds.
“In our culture, we care deeply about our employees and clients,” he continues, explaining that agents pay close attention to detail so they can do what’s right for clients and provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions. He finds that clients appreciate the time agents take to learn about their businesses and understand their needs, thus making sure they have the right insurance coverage.
The insurance industry is constantly changing, and to provide ongoing support and develop the desired level of expertise to benefit both clients and agents, the company provides substantial continuing education for employees, some of it in local offices and some off-site. Johnsen explains that insurance is actually a written contract, and contracts change every year. “It’s extremely important for us to keep on top of that,” he says. “As the world changes, insurance changes, too.”
He gives cyber liability as an example of a new development and observes that people are subject to a wide spectrum of situations that make insurance necessary. “Nobody ever thinks it’s going to be them,” he says. “Sometimes people forget about common sense, and that’s why we buy insurance. We’re human, and we’re all going to make mistakes. Nobody is immune.” He adds that every person has different needs and expectations, and George Petersen Insurance Agency is a sales organization with a service aspect that manages those expectations.
As a company committed to the community, George Petersen Insurance Agency, which is named for its founder, strives to support other businesses as well. “Any kind of business we do, we want to work locally,” says Johnson. What’s more, “We’re involved in a lot of charity and community work,” he says, citing support for nonprofit events for organizations such as Rotary, the Lions Club, Sonoma County Farm Bureau and Challenger Division Little League games for physically and/or mentally disabled youth. “We help umpire,” he explains. In addition, employees from the Santa Rosa office helped pack food at Redwood Empire Food Bank in February and took turns ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Coddingtown Mall for two full days during the holiday season. They also collected donated toys for Toys for Tots. “Donating money is one thing, but putting a little sweat equity into the community, we think, goes even further,” says Johnsen. He points out that local government is important as well, and one employee, Bruce Okrepkie, is mayor of Windsor.
George Petersen Insurance Agency has 170 employees in 10 locations in California and Oregon, and it offers a wide range of insurance services. With a respected track record after almost 80 years in business, its strength is in its people. “We’re a very young and vibrant organization,” says Johnsen, pointing to a presence on Facebook with photographs of employees in the community, as well as the company’s activities, which range from a workshop to help clients understand the Affordable Care Act to messages congratulating them on their accomplishments.
On winning this NorthBay biz award, Johnsen says, “It’s an absolute honor. We’re very proud of our business and thankful for the people who voted for us.”



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