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Declaration of Independents: Emmanuel Osuyah

Osuyah's first venture into insurance was in 2004 when he purchased his mother-in-law's Allstate agency. He quickly realized that this was not the right road for him and decided to go the independent agency route.
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DoI_Resize.jpgEmmanuel Osuyah

Principal

Alpha Direct Agency

New York

Osuyah's first venture into insurance was in 2004 when he purchased his mother-in-law's Allstate agency. He quickly realized that this was not the right road for him and decided to go the independent agency route. Fast forward 20 years and Alpha Direct has 13 employees and three branches in three states—North Carolina, New York and Florida. 

Favorite thing about insurance?

We don't think about how much insurance is involved in pretty much everything that happens around the world. It's very interesting to know that if bad weather forecast or someone is sick, insurance is involved in that conversation.

When I hire new employees, I try to teach them about the industry and not just about fulfilling tasks. One of the assignments I give them is to look in their local newspaper and find news from the last 24 hours that talks about something to do with insurance. They're always surprised.

Biggest challenges facing insurance agents?

The number of carriers that have pulled out of states. I understand the reason behind it and the impact it is having on their operations, but that has the biggest impact in our world as professionals and insurance agents. We exist to serve our customers, but our hands are tied. That's been the most difficult thing.

Benefits of Big “I" membership?

All the legislative work that happens, especially through Big I New York, allows us to be aware of the things that are going on in our state. Then there's also the ability to influence that as well. To give a voice to the pain points of our customers and be able to bring that feedback.

Favorite thing about working with clients?

The phone call that follows after we've solved problems for them. It's the referral. It's the client who gets on the stage with a microphone and says, “Hey, I don't just have insurance, I have Emmanuel." There is a great joy that is derived from a life of service. We're not as fancy and noble as a fireman or policeman, but at the end of the day, we make a difference.

I came into this industry 20 years ago. After a year of being in the industry, I said to my wife, “I think I found that thing. The thing that I'm going to do for 30 years."

Vibrant workplace?

Born in Nigeria with a Dominican wife, it's not uncommon to attract employees from different countries. Over 20 years we've had employees from close to 20 countries—from as far as Pakistan to India to Argentina at any given time. We're between seven and 10 represented countries among our employees currently.

We are a remote operation now. And because we're remote, we do things to keep us engaged, learn from each other's cultures, and understand those differences. As far as religions, we have Muslims, Christians and everything in between. Embracing that diversity has really helped us form a unique work environment.

Latest book?

It's called “Recode: Eight Mind Hacks for the Small Business Owner," and it's about my business. It talks about Alpha Direct Agency and all the struggles you face when you come into the small business world. Business owners go into business thinking it's about profits—that's how the business owner's mindset works—but it's actually about people. If you understand that and you can marry leadership responsibilities with your growth strategies. Luckily for us, 60% of our employees have been with the company for 10 years or more.

Olivia Overman is IA content editor.

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Monday, July 1, 2024
Agency Operations & Best Practices