Employee profile: Becky IrvingPublished by emzabinski on Wed, 2014-04-16 09:44
Becky Irving has a Mark Twain motto taped to her computer : “Always do right; this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” It’s fair to say that Becky lives up to that motto quite easily.
Becky is an insurance agent at Grand Rapids State Agency, a position she’s held since March 2000. She is a CISR, a certified insurance service representative, a distinction earned by insurance professionals based on continuing education designed to improve their knowledge base about policies, coverages, exposures, and risks. For Becky, working hard to do the right thing is what her career is all about.
Grand Rapids State Agency is an insurance agency owned by Wilcox Bancshares, the holding company that also owns Grand Rapids State Bank. The Agency has existed primarily to serve banking customers at GRSB, but the three-person team is working hard to expand their services across a broader reach. As we visited about her job, Becky—true to form—wanted to be sure that she acknowledged her coworkers first.
“When I started here in 2000, my mentor was Leona Barten,” said Becky. “Leona had worked here 30 years when I began in 2000, and she retired last June after 43 years. She was an insurance guru and had a significant impact on my training here at the agency and throughout the years until she retired last year. Our staff and clients really miss her.
“We hired Mike Olson, agency manager, two and a half years ago, and Mike is an excellent manager and very easy for staff and clients to relate to,” Becky said. “We were lucky to get him and his vast knowledge of the insurance industry”.
“Michael Loidolt is our newest addition,” she continued. “He is learning the ropes but catches on fast. He has been a great addition to the Agency and is well liked by our clients.”
Becky graduated from Greenway High School and has lived in the area her entire life. She began her working life at age 14, working at area parks and the County fairgrounds. She has been married to her “best friend” for three decades and thinks she’ll keep him. Mark and Becky have two sons, Justin and Kevin, of whom she is very proud. Justin is an electrician in South Dakota and Kevin, an internal audit manager with Microsoft, lives in Washington. Justin has a 12-year old son, Mason, and Becky is a doting grandmother.
Becky has always worked, she explains. She worked for eight years as a pharmacy technician at Nordby Drug in Grand Rapids and then as an intake specialist for another eight-plus years with Northland Counseling Center. Her job at Northland was to listen to people’s issues, assign them a therapist best-suited to help, work with insurance providers to pay for the costs of care, and determining patients’ eligibility for income-qualified coverage.
From that background Becky came to work at the Grand Rapids State Agency, and her abilities to listen well and provide help to customers has continued.
“I like meeting people and helping them find insurance or other products that meet their needs,” Becky said. “Just like the bank’s slogan says, your story is our story. Our customers’ concerns become our concerns, and we work to help them. I am proud to say that we are now working with three generations of customers, and that’s quite an accomplishment.”
Becky finds that transitions in life (births, deaths, weddings, landing a new job or purchasing a home or vehicle) frequently bring people to the realization that some insurance coverage is needed or should be revised.
Becky is noted for working long hours, and we’re talking long hours. “I just can’t quit until I get something done; I don’t like to leave things half-done,” said Becky. “I pledge every day to do the best I can for our clients.”
“Since the age of 14, when I got my first job, I believed that if you want something, you need to put in the time to make it happen, and I’ve lived by that ever since,” Becky explained.
Despite this high standard for work excellence, Becky has a life outside of the office. Her husband plays the dobra, so the two of them attend bluegrass festivals throughout the region. These events are family-oriented, and Becky enjoys them even though she is only a “professional listener.”
Becky’s family enjoys camping and four-wheeling, mainly putzing around through the woods near their home or along trails. She is not a “mudder” and enjoys her autumn rides the most. She also enjoys raising guinea pigs; her current pet, Oreo, is aptly named.
Becky’s generosity of spirit extends to caring for others. She has assisted the elderly over the past 20+ years. Most recently, she has volunteered with Elder Circle helping an elderly shut-in lady that has failing eyesight. “I write checks for monthly bills, balance checkbooks, shop, clean, play games, or just visit. This has been very rewarding, and I enjoy all the stories they have to share. One of my little ladies worked in a torpedo factory during World War II and another became a welder on ships in Superior. They are great women who have lived amazing lives”.
If you met Becky just once, you might not know of her work ethic, either. But as Mark Twain reminds her daily, doing the right thing will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Becky astonishes many people.
Becky's family: (clockwise from left) Becky, Kevin, Mark, Justin and Mason. Bottom: We don't think Becky could have found a better name for her pet guinea pig than "Oreo."