Dressed in jeans and a tie-dyed T-shirt, a young Michael Harris approached an older friend and asked about his career in the insurance business. Harris had always been told he should be in sales because of his calm sensibilities with people, and he’d considered a job in insurance claims. His friend told him to first get his insurance license, then come back and see him. Harris followed that advice, and the friend connected him with his first employer. Today, Harris has his own office and is mentoring a young man who will soon graduate from Washington State University Vancouver. “We’re always looking for people with an entrepreneurial spirit,” Harris said. “And I had to pay that forward.”
Name: Michael Harris.
Residence neighborhood: Salmon Creek.
Employer/business name: State Farm Insurance Companies.
Business address: 13317 N.E. 12th Ave., Suite 117, Vancouver. 360-882-1600, http://www.michaelharris.biz.
Educational/professional background: Attended Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., and I worked in the ski industry early on.
How –and when — you got started in your business: My State Farm career began in 1996 in North Carolina. I worked for an agent, first in North Carolina then in Portland, and he guided me on my journey to becoming an agent. I opened my own agency in Vancouver on May 1, 2000.
Personal/business philosophy: Our team is built on a foundation of professional yet personal service offering protection for all the events of life.
Most rewarding part of job: Working with people and helping them. I especially enjoy working with youth or newly married couples and helping them map their future while managing their everyday risks.
Most challenging part of job: Sometimes I wear many hats and the hardest is being a “counselor” at times of the loss of loved ones. It’s tough to see my clients go through that loss.
Something surprising about your work: The most surprising thing for me as an agent has been the lasting friendships I have made along the way. What begins as a professional relationship with potential clients often grows into treasured friendships. For this I am grateful.
Best feature of my Clark County community: The small-town feel and sense of community.
What would make your community a better place: Growth along the waterfront.
Your favorite travel destination and type: I love to fish so anywhere there is a river or ocean is my favorite place to be.
Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: Beaches.
Hobbies: Fishing and golf.
Most enjoyable book/play/movie/arts event in past 12 months: “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling.
Something you’d like to do this year/within five years: Travel with my wife and four children to national parks in the Western U.S.
One word to describe yourself: Outgoing.
Person you’d most like to meet: I would most like to meet Jesus, but I’m not in a hurry for that to happen.