Get to know Jeremy Mills, a State Farm agent who lives in Seaside with his family and loves the community. Mills took over the State Farm office in August 2014.
Did you move to Seaside for work or personal reasons?
I started with State Farm at $8 an hour working for an agent. As you get better at what you do, you start working your way up the ladder. It took me about seven years to get to a point where I earned the ability to become an agent. We were in Brookings for almost the whole time. Then when it became time for me to go into agency, or to take over or start my own office, they had offered us an opportunity in Eugene. And I’m from Virginia, so I’m country. And they were very clinical. Everybody was just like, “Here’s my bill,” and I would be like, “Hold on, hold on — let’s talk,” and they’d be like, “Nope,” and they would run out the door. And, as you can tell, we’re friendly. That’s a part of what my office stands on the foundation of. We’re more than just business relationships. I want it to be personal. I help protect people’s families, I help protect their homes and their cars. More so than anything else, though, I help protect their future. And that’s an intimate relationship. For me, I take that with the utmost humbleness and I’m very dedicated to that. I wasn’t able to relate with the clients there. When we came out here, it was very much an opportunity to come back to what we knew, which was building relationships and having friends.
When did you start with State Farm?
I graduated high school in 1996, joined the U.S. Marine Corps, spent four years in the Marines, got out in 2000, and moved to a town called Crescent City, California, that is 10 miles from the Oregon border. I either worked there or in Brookings, so I started with State Farm there.
Do you ever miss Virginia?
Every day. I miss the food, I miss the way of life, I miss my family something horrible. When we moved here, we didn’t know anybody. When you bring your family into a town where you know nobody on a hope and a dream and a belief you can make a difference and the idea that this is the kind of community I want to raise my daughter in and have my family in, it was a big step.
What drew you to this line of work?
In 2006 or 2007, my grandma came and said, “Hey, your grandfather’s passed and I don’t know what to do about my health insurance.” She was turning 65. I said, “Grandma, I don’t know what to tell you. I just know I have car insurance. That’s about all I know.” And she said, “Well, can you look up Medicare online?” And I went online and tried to understand Medicare, and they have plans A, B, C, D, E, F, all the way to N. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, and I asked her, “Where’s your car insurance, grandma?” She said, “State Farm.” I said, “Okay, let’s go in and meet your State Farm agent and see what’s going on.” We went into State Farm and spent about an hour with her agent, who was a phenomenal person and, at the end of the interview, offered me a job.
Since you moved here, what are some other ways you have become involved in the community?
As an office, I have not pursued community integration through businesses. What we’ve done is we have embraced the children. I have a 14-year-old daughter. We sponsored a Girls Pacific Basketball League team. We sponsored a Seaside Kids Girls Softball team. Actually two. We sponsored the Lunch Buddy Program. We’ve been a part of that. We’ve been a part of the North Coast Food Drive, sponsored by the Bank of America. Most of the time if people with kids come by and say, “Hey, can you help?” I’m like, “What do you need?” Those are some of the ones that we are proudest of. I really love the Lunch Buddy Program, because I get to go to recess and eat school lunch once a week. I’m like, this is the best thing ever.
So things that are oriented toward children especially?
Yes, because kids and pets, they can’t defend themselves. And you can’t tell a kid, “Hey, if you’re hungry, go get a job.” You can’t tell them that. We just want to help. If I died today, and tomorrow was my eulogy, I hope whoever stood up just says, “ All Jeremy wanted to do was help.
Your business is also part of some civic organizations?
Yes, Chamber of Commerce and the Seaside Downtown Development Association. I got asked to run for the SDDA board. I haven’t been here but a year and a couple months. I was very honored, super honored. What an incredible part of the community. SDDA does so much for us, and the Chamber, too. I was very touched to have been asked. Another thing, I do gift referrals, or thank-yous, so if a client sends me somebody that does insurance with us, we send our clients a gift referral. A lot of other agents will use prepaid Visa cards we get. Here, we actually go and buy local businesses’ gift cards. That’s our way of putting it back into the community. Again it comes back to the fact that we moved to Seaside purposely. I have no parachute. I don’t have a second choice if this doesn’t work out. This is our goal, to live here and retire here and integrate. For us, we’re all in. If I had more time, I would be a part of everything. We’ve embraced the community like we hope to be embraced. And we have been. We’ve had an incredible first year.
As a person and a professional, what are some values that are most important to you?
My faith in God and my trust in Jesus are the foundation of what we come every day to work in. I hope not to offend anybody, but I let that lead my choices in how I interact with everybody. Christ talked about loving everybody. I know that if I love my clients, and I do everything out of love, and if love is the foundation of why I talk to you about something, and love is the foundation of why I say, “You should probably do this” or “You should probably not do that,” then I know I can’t go wrong. At the end of the day, I want to know I did the very best for everyone I could: my team, our clients, the community. That just kind of guides me. That is the basis of my ethical and business philosophy.