It was a chance meeting in an elevator in Dublin, Ireland that led to Eric Veldman moving from Boise, Idaho to Orcas Island to become the owner of the only island based insurance company – San Juan Insurance.
“I was at a Chairman’s Conference for the top percentage of financial service sellers for Allstate. I bumped into Judy Binney in the elevator and her name tag gave the name of her company as San Juan Insurance. That was the start of a conversation that ultimately led to a discussion of her retirement and nine months later to my buying her company,” Veldman said.
He had been with AT&T and various spin-offs for 15 years in Calif., Wash., and Idaho when he received a phone call at 3 p.m. one Friday afternoon in 2000 that informed him he was being laid-off. With four children and his wife, Sheila, working as a full time mother he needed to find new employment quickly. He started his own insurance company and was already winning sales awards when the chance meeting with Binney happened. He says the option to purchase a well-run and well-respected agency in a place that was great to raise kids was too attractive an opportunity to pass up.
Under Veldman’s ownership San Juan Insurance has expanded to offer more products to island residents. “I have broadened the product mix we have to offer,” he says. “In the past it was primarily Allstate and personal insurance. Now, we do everything. We provide insurance for both business and personal needs including home, auto, recreational vehicles, life, health and dental through Allstate and other carriers,” he said.
“A lot of people think they have to buy insurance from the mainland. I want people to know there is an Orcas-based option with five fully-licensed and professional staff members who can provide any type of insurance.”
On July 15 Veldman’s San Juan Insurance expanded again when he purchased the Bell-Anderson Agency from Nancy Zier. “San Juan Insurance is thrilled to continue providing local service and support to Nancy’s clients,” Veldman says.
“We love being part of the community. We give to local causes and support the local community in a number of ways both through individual staff efforts and the office. Jan Corbett is involved in the animal shelter and Judi Madan does the cancer walk for example,” he says.
“By working with us people are buying locally. We provide income and employment for six island families. We value our customers. They are the key reason we are able to sustain our office,” Veldman says.