Heath Stein grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. He left for his career, but has returned to his Harlan, IA roots. Here’s how he did it.
Why Did You Move Back to Your Hometown?
I grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins in the Harlan, Iowa area. My dad still runs a farm there. Harlan is an ag-based community, and we have a tight-knit family. It was appealing in that sense. Everything about the community and the experience I had growing up made me want to come back. I met my wife here — we grew up five miles apart – and we wanted that experience for our kids (ages 2 years and 6 months).
How Did You Get Started With Farm Bureau?
At first, I came back to be a teacher and baseball coach. But I was questioning whether I wanted to teach for the rest of my life. I started to talk to the local Farm Bureau district manager here, Jared Spangenberg, about what a career with Farm Bureau could look like. I could make the change and keep coaching baseball here, which I love. So, I decided to take the plunge. It’s been really good for me.
What Do You Find Most Rewarding About Working in Your Hometown?
I know the people here, I know their situations, and I usually know their family members. The network I have here helped me get off the ground. And the relationships are sincere. If something bad were to happen, I feel good that they have insurance that can help take care of them and put them back on their feet. One of our goals as a company is to be first in and first out — to treat people right. That’s pretty rewarding.
Was It Hard to Transition From Teaching to Selling Insurance?
As a teacher, I didn’t know a lot about insurance. So there was a big learning curve and a lot of studying. But mentorship from people at Farm Bureau made it easier. I love the resources and the structure. There are always people to reach out to with any questions I might have.
What’s a Typical Day Like for You?
Nothing’s ever the same, and the variety is good. It’s a juggling act, especially since I’m coaching baseball. On days when we play at home, I’m in the office from 8 a.m. until 2:30 or 3 p.m. then I go down to the field. I’ll get home at about 10 p.m. On days we don’t have games, we practice from 10 a.m. to noon, and I’m in the office outside of that time.
I’m working hard to get my name out there in the community. Harlan is very active, and we have a fair coming up that’s designed to get kids interested in the ag side of things. I’ll be there. And I sponsor Pheasants Forever, an organization that helps protect pheasant habitats for recreational activities like hunting.
Farm Bureau helps me connect with my community. For example, I had two professionals come out and talk about succession planning. There were about 30 farmers there who run family farms and have kids who would like to farm, and the presenters spoke to them about how to do that. It’s good for the community.
What Do You Like to Do Outside of Work?
I like spending time with my family and friends and on my dad’s family farm. I still play in a baseball league, and I like to golf. I don’t travel much, but my wife and I are looking at a quick, two-day getaway sometime soon.
What Are You Looking Forward To?
I’ve been with Farm Bureau for about two and a half years, and I’m getting to the point where I want to add staff to continue to grow the business. Building a good brand that provides ways to protect people in their lives and set them up for a successful future is what I like. I want to continue to educate everybody on what we offer and the products we can help them with.
What Advice Would You Give to Someone Considering Returning to Their Hometown?
There’s opportunity here. Farm Bureau is an ag-based company started by farmers for farmers. People know the name well, and this company sets you up for success. They train you, and there are resources there for every step. You have your manager, a just-in-time team, your trainer and your underwriters. With the opportunity, the resources and the quality of the company as a whole, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Are You Ready to Return to Your Roots?
If you’re thinking of a making a career change like Heath did, consider a future with Farm Bureau. Reach out to learn more today.