Editor's note: Benefits Selling's Broker of the Year finalists will be revealed Monday-Friday this week. Meet our first finalist.
Vic Troncalli isn't the kind of person who can retire. He tried it once, after a long and very successful career in the garment industry. He bought a place up in the North Carolina mountains and after six months, he says he was bored. So he obtained his real estate license and began purchasing REMAX franchises. That was a decent business for Troncalli — until the Great Recession sucker punched real estate in 2008.
Looking to escape into something else, he started an Edward Jones office on the advice of a friend. After a while, though, he realized he didn't like finance, but ended up taking some insurance classes and discovered he liked the business. While he prefers insurance to financial advising, he started in 2009 — just before the passage of PPACA.
That bit of timing would be enough to kill anyone's business aspirations, but Troncalli is a survivor. All those successful years in his first career taught him how to formulate a business plan and see it through. Today, Troncalli and Associates is a growing agency with clients across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, with plans to move into Florida later this year. Troncalli's agency, which is based in the Atlanta bedroom community of Villa Rica, Georgia, is focused mainly on small groups — a portion of the industry Troncalli says tends to get left behind as other brokers and agents aim for larger clients.
“The key is having good volume and customers that keep coming back,” Troncalli says. “You have all types of people in this business. In insurance, you have people who want to be a Wall Street wannabe. They want to talk to just HR people. I’m out there talking to ‘Jeff’ and he just started his business and he's got 30 employees and he's trying to figure out how make a payroll.”
Like other finalists, 64-year-old Troncalli has been helping a lot of clients this year with Obamacare. He took a course to get his certification, but says the only way to really learn to help clients navigate the law is through experience.
“This was the first year I’ve done Obamacare,” Troncalli says. “The only way you understand it is not by the 20-hour course you take — you understand it by working with each customer. I enjoy it because I deal with families. I was raised in the 1950s and 1960s and I’m far from being a saint, but the dynamics today are off the chart — you’ve got two people working, or dependents on different plans. The government says all you need to do is sign up, but they can't. I found that to be a mission this year.”
Troncalli, in addition to his plans to expand into the Sunshine State, wants to start offering seminars this year to educate people about Medicare and Obamacare while sharing the importance of having a good insurance advisor in life.
“I haven't bought a lead since I started,” Troncalli says. “It's a referral business. And it's that way because you have to care about somebody somewhere, and they have to trust you. I have learned to always do right by the customer.”