ByJohn Davidson - January 26, 2024
By John Davidson - April 3, 2023
The Doctors Company
John Davidson, Vice President of Sales and Operations at TriMountain Corporation, may have grown up in a small eastern Kentucky town with a population of approximately 140, but there is nothing small about his story.
His experiences with the White House, World Bank, and World Council of Churches to name a few”are somehow outshined by his impressive growth as an insurance broker in just over seven years.
"Growing up, insurance wasn't even on my radar," John said. "We lived on a small farm and ran cattle. My early family, going back to Daniel Boone times, settled at Fort Boonesborough in 1772 and just never left."
Active in the community church, with early aspirations to become a pastor, John was encouraged as a teen to also study business.
My father told me, If you understand business, regardless of what you do in life if you're a pastor, great you'll be able to help your church committees run the finances. And if you don't go into that, it's good basic knowledge that can lead to solid career opportunities.
John attended Transylvania University, a private college in Lexington, Kentucky, and majored in business with a minor in religion. He next went to graduate school at the Lexington Theological Seminary and received his Master of Divinity degree, leading him to be a pastor in yet another small town called Eminence, Kentucky. Shortly thereafter, John accepted a position as chaplain at the University of Florida (UF).
That's when doors opened for exploring new career opportunities.
The church center at UF was built in the '60s and the building was starting to fall apart. So, I took the initiative to start a fundraising team, reach out to alumni, and write some grants locally for sustainability. That's when I discovered I really enjoyed that kind of administrative, financial work, even though it was in the church setting. We raised half a million dollars in six months, and it illuminated a path forward for my career.
While at the University of Florida, John was offered a fellowship from the World Council of Churches to attend a year-long program at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. One of the specializations he chose to study was development.
"At the time, the United Nations had just created its millennial goals, and one of those happened to be strengthening the economic and political partnerships of the World Council of Churches, John explained. And the World Council was working with various nongovernmental organizations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Since I wrote my thesis on global development and the role churches play, I was able to participate in some high-level discussions at the World Council, which really helped my professional development."
Once his year ended, John moved to Indianapolis, where he worked as a capital and financial adviser for the Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF).
â€œI would fly around the country up to 250 days a year to meet with local congregations, affiliated universities, orphanages, nursing homes you name it to assist them with capital fundraising projects. From 2006 to 2012, I would help these organizations gather money to serve their communities in whatever way, like building dorms or housing units, serving youth, serving homeless people and food banksâ€”anything that was needed. And as I did that, I was also building relationships across the nation. It was fun, but a lot of travel.
John's work during this period did not go unnoticed. He was appointed by his denomination to serve as a liaison for the White House Office of Neighborhoods and Faith-Based Initiatives during the Obama administration. As a financial adviser, he was instrumental in forming a green building program at DCEF aimed at reducing energy consumption and reducing operational costs. The churches could then use the money saved to repay the cost of capital renovations and to further serve their communities.
Following the birth of their first son, John and his wife, Kris, decided to move to Denver, Colorado, to seize a new opportunity where he could spend more time with his family.
John took on a role as Associate Director of Development at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, leading fundraising for the creation of its Risk Management and Insurance (RMI) program. The RMI program was the only undergraduate and graduate insurance program west of the Mississippi and became one of the country's top 20 schools for risk management and insurance within the first three years.
Then, while working with the school's board of directors, John became friends with Chris Eldredge, Managing Director of Wells Fargo Insurance Services in Colorado.
That's when it all came together for his career path.
'For several years, Chris and I had discussions about the insurance industry, and eventually I started to think, ˜I've spent all this time telling students how great this industry is, maybe I should give it a try. Eventually, Chris told me he was starting his own company, TriMountain, and so I told him, ˜Well, if you ever need someone, give me a call."
Sure enough, Chris made the call, and John took a leap of faith and started in March of 2015.
I thought to myself, I'm good at networking, I'm good at building relationships, I should give this a shot. But the learning curve was steep, and I started with zero clients.
Early on, John made some bold prospecting moves by leveraging existing relationships. He convinced his dentist to switch her insurance policies, which led to some dental and dental anesthesiologist referrals. Through his optometrist, he got in touch with the CEO of Vision Care Specialists and soon thereafter, they became a client. Then, an attorney friend asked John to review their firm's malpractice policy and he was able to reduce their cost by about 40 percent, or $30,000, on their premium in the first year. Soon, word of mouth spread.
It was apparent John had a knack for gaining clients, and in turn, building new relationships. He attributes a lot of that to being technical.
We're technical specialists, we're not just salespeople. When we sit down with a group, we ask them, "How do you manage this type of exposure or issue?" And then we go over all the details of what their insurance needs are to remedy the situation. They appreciate that because they're not used to a broker taking the time to explain everything. It builds trust with our clients and strengthens our relationships. And let's be honest, who expects busy physicians to comb through their insurance policies? That's our jobto do it for them. My philosophy is we are not going to sell a policy we haven't read. In fact, we've even called national underwriters and said, â€˜You know, you have a typo on page 162 of your policy.
Technical explanations and the trust-building processes have been the keystone for John's and TriMountain's success. They have grown between 20 and 30 percent each year since starting the agency, do business in over 40 states, and have international partners in over 35 countries. Plus, their customer retention rate is consistently in the high 90s.
In five years, we made the top 25 insurance brokers in theDenver Business Journal,John said. "We're now up to 23”so we're chipping away each year and will continue to do so. We take a lot of time getting to know our doctors, our groups, and our programs, and so we build those deep relationships and harness them. If there's ever an issue, the doctor knows their practice administrator can just give me a call and I'll take care of it. Whereas before, they may have been calling a call center and had no idea who they were talking to or what their needs were. Our clients are loyal to us because we've built trust and they know we're always going to take care of them.
This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue ofThe Agent's Advocate, a publication of The Doctors Company.
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