When you get to know Mike Skeele, it doesn’t take long to learn that he is passionate about his family. And it is a family legacy that led him to insurance.
While attending college in 1977, Skeele asked his parents if he could join the family business. Skeele’s grandfather had started an insurance agency in 1957, and it had remained a family business since.
“They said yes, and the story starts there,” said Skeele. “My grandfather was still somewhat active, so it was an interesting learning experience to learn from Grandpa and Dad at the same time!”
Eventually, Skeele purchased the agency from his parents. He was soon joined at the agency by his two brothers, Shawn and Shea. But the family legacy didn’t stop there.
“Then my oldest son, Matt, joined us about nine years ago as the fourth generation in the family business.” said Skeele.
Over the years, Skeele worked to build the agency from a $60,000 revenue business to a $1.3 million agency with six locations in central New York. He credits the agency’s employees as a key success factor.
“They represent us well at all times,” said Skeele.
He also notes smart acquisitions and agency technology helped along the way, too. While it can be demanding to run a large agency, how you handle the challenges along the way builds character and resilience.
“It seems like every day has different challenges,” said Skeele. “While it can consume you, it can also provide the opportunity to be flexible, to round out oneself.”
Of course, there’s a larger impact being made on customers every day.
“It is very satisfying to provide help to people in their time of need,” said Skeele. “Knowing you are responsible for that help because you did your job well.”
In addition to running the agency, Skeele plays an active part in his local community and insurance network. He coached high school varsity boys soccer for 27 years. He served as President of PIA of New York, and continues to serve on the board. Currently he is President of Hawksoft Users Group and AUGIE Group.
“When I decided to retire from coaching, it was because I was urged to be more involved in state and national industry organizations,” said Skeele. “I have enjoyed all of them, and I very much enjoyed coaching and watching these young men grow as kids and players, knowing I was hopefully making a positive impact on their lives.”
Mike Skeele is also proud dad of four kids and seven grandkids. So it’s no surprise the family legacy continues on the field, too. His son Matt recently completed a third year of coaching for the same school and program Mike did. Matt’s brother, Erik, is assistant coach.
When asked what he loves most about working in the insurance industry, Skeele touches on the stability if offers.
“This industry provided a good living to myself, my family and my employees,” said Skeele. “It’s a service and relationship-based business and we all enjoy helping people solve their insurance needs whether it’s coverage or pricing.”
He also touched on the opportunity to meet, work and know individuals in this industry across the nation.
“I have met so many wonderful people that I call friends as well,” said Skeele. “Whether we are friendly local competitors, or sitting together on a board meeting in California, we have so many great individuals in this industry.”
This is the way Mike Skeele works.
President of Skeele Agency Inc.
One word that describes how you like to work.
Current mobile device:
Lenovo with 48” monitor
Project(s) you’re currently working on:
Continuing to make our agency efficient and truly paperless.
Accomplishments you’re proud of:
Dad, Papa, Coach, many boards I have or continue to serve upon; Giving back to community, Volunteering, First Responder, Mason.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Keep doing what I am doing. More acquisitions.
What are your biggest professional challenges?
Meeting the demands by government on small businesses.
What do you like most about your job?
People and flexibility
Aside from your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why?
TV. I love to watch sports, programs and movies in my down time which isn’t often!
How do you manage your to-do list?
I am a good time manager and multi-tasker.
What’s your best time-saving tip or hack?
Multitasking, but I also work early in the morning and on weekends to keep up with everything.
What’s the first thing you do when you get in the office?
Whatever requires my attention first.
Favorite social network?
I am not on them. I have a profile on Linked In but that is it.
Night owl or morning person?
Both! I live on about 5-6 hours of sleep….but I will fall asleep on the couch watching TV if my body says “Peace out!” My girlfriend will verify this!
What are you watching on Netflix right now?
Action Thriller…..otherwise I fall asleep!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Insurance, property management, general contractor on projects, personal stuff and all the back-office crap with owning a business!
Who are your business idols and why?
Everyone that runs a successful business with smiling employees while giving back to community. Those people have my respect and I emulate them every day I can.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Listen. Speak when you have something to say. Lead by example. Give back. Pay it forward. And love and live like there is no tomorrow. Also, smile and keep a sense of humor!
If you could switch jobs with someone, who would it be?
The President! I don’t want to get into the politics but can’t one carry him or herself with more dignity of the office and as our representative of our country?
Who would you like to see in a future This is the Way post?
Paul Hawkins, CEO of Hawksoft. A family-based CMS company with an interesting story!
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