Over his 26 years as a Farmers Insurance Agent, Rodney Orr, says there is one thing about his job that gives him the most satisfaction.
“When you’re able to hand a life insurance check over to a family that has lost a loved one,” he said. “And you know it’s going to take care of them. That’s very satisfying, maybe more so than anything else.”
Orr has presided over the Farmers Insurance location in Hope, since 1996, when his office was farther south on the same street. He has been at 601 South Main since the move 15 years ago, when the building’s lobby was also redone.
Since then, Orr’s agency has offered a full range of insurance: farm, home, life and auto. While the technology used to meet these needs have changed, the offerings have not.
Orr said he had seen some changes in what causes claims and in the insurance market itself. In the past few years, Orr said, he has seen more claims caused by weather damage. He has also seen more interest in purchases of life insurance during the COVID pandemic. Asked if this had tailed off with the recent decrease in cases, Orr said it had not.
But with his staff, continuity has been the applicable word. Betty Hill has been at the location for 18 years. Becca Whipkey has been there for two and a half years. Both are certified in customer service.
Orr himself was born in Arkadelphia, but came with his parents two and a half years later when they moved to Hope once his father, a state police officer, was transferred here. Orr graduated from Hope High School and when he graduated from University of Central Arkansas, he began a job search in central Arkansas.
“Then I heard from a former childhood baseball coach [who] had a friend in the insurance business and knew they were looking for an insurance agent in Hope. Through him, I was connected to the district manager, and the rest is history,” Orr said.
As he was training the join the industry, he met Roger Ward, then in Hot Springs, who Orr said was “very instrumental” in his formation as an agent and a source of advice. Orr also credited his current district manager David Tackett as a valuable mentor for “advice when I was starting out.”
In terms of the bottom line for his agency, Orr said, “I’ve been fortunate that my business has seen growth pretty much every year.”
The business’ growth has allowed Orr and his staff to sponsor local activities and to volunteer alongside. Orr has been vice president of the Hempstead County/Hope Chamber of Commerce, a member of the local Rotary Club and “we’ve been involved in youth sports, from youth baseball boards to coaching,” he said. As his children were in high school, he volunteered with their sports teams.
As of this past Thursday, Orr is handling “a slew of claims” from the hail storm that came through the area Monday evening April 4 and eager to help Farmers Insurance policy holders. “We have the ability to put them back where they were before the loss happened, make them whole again,” he said, adding it made his job a happy one, “knowing our product that we offer can help them recover.”