Brian Huffman knows the value of good insurance. Huffman, owner of the State Farm Insurance Agency at 3938 West River Drive in downtown Comstock Park, said he and his staff came to work one Monday morning to find a car had crashed through the building. The driver had overshot the corner at Lamoreaux Drive.
“It happened late on a Sunday night,” recalled Huffman. “We got here on Monday morning, and there was a car sitting in the office. “We had good insurance,” he added.
Huffman’s father worked for State Farm, and Huffman followed in his father’s footsteps. Huffman began his career in 1987 working in claims for State Farm in Seattle WA for three years and then a year in Lansing. He decided to become an agent because he “didn’t want to stay in claims…sit in an office. “Agency gives opportunity to meet people, build relationships,” said Huffman. “It’s neat to see people come in…their kids were three when they first came here, now they’re driving.”
Huffman moved to the Comstock Park office in 1991 to replace the retiring agent who had been there twenty years and bought the 1000 square foot building. Besides Huffman, there are two full-time employees.
After 25 years in Comstock Park, Huffman still likes the location. He says the downtown location agrees with his belief in interacting personally with clients. Things are different in the insurance business than they were when he started, Huffman noted. Now, agents may have clients state-wide via the Internet. “How can I develop a relationship with a client if they’re in Detroit,” noted Huffman who prefers meeting his clients in person and getting to know them so he can assess their insurance needs. He said there is a challenge for agents. “Most people who want a quote go to statefarm.com and the company can pick and choose which agent they get,” he said. “The challenge is we want people to call us (the agents), not State Farm.”
State Farm agents are responsible for their own local advertising, and Huffman has had a couple billboards on Alpine Avenue. He advertises in the White Caps programs and the Comstock Park High School sports programs, as well as supporting the local Little League and the Relay for Life. Many of Huffman’s clients are local, and he said the worst large scale catastrophe he’s had happen while in Comstock Park are the straight line winds in the mid-1990’s that uprooted large trees and ripped roofs off buildings.
As a State Farm agent, Huffman offers auto, home, renters, life, and business insurance as well as auto loans which agents can offer because State Farm has its own bank. All of that requires continuing education on the agent’s part – recertification every two years that takes thirty hours. Huffman called his initial training at claims school “like a boot camp” that lasted a month. Besides forms, procedures, and such, trainees learn the history of the State Farm Insurance, headquartered in Bloomington Illinois. It was founded in 1922 by an Illinois farmer. "Farmers in the area got together, put their money in a pot so if a barn burned down, it was covered,” Huffman said.
Huffman grew up in Marshall MI graduating from Marshall High School. He graduated from Northern Michigan University with a degree in business management, and went to work for State Farm after graduating. He and his wife Kristi, a vice-president at John Henry Company, a printing company in Lansing, live in Cascade and have two grown daughters. Huffman likes to golf. He and his wife enjoy outdoor activities and have a boat in Grand Haven and a cottage in the Upper Peninsula.