Divine intervention

Did you choose your career, or did your career choose you? Brad Schanilec, secretary-manager at Walsh County Mutual Insurance Company in Minot, N.D., credits “divine intervention.”

“I worked on the family farm, and — in my eyes — that wasn’t going anywhere,” said Brad. “I read an ad in the paper, ‘Possible managerial position opening. If interested, please call.’ I called, of course.”

The ad was for an insurance company. Brad traveled selling disabilities and life insurance for six years. He then worked for a property-casualty company before joining Walsh County Mutual in 2005.

“I never grew up wanting to be an insurance man. I don’t think anybody does,” said Brad. “It’s nothing I planned. It’s what I call ‘divine intervention.’”

 

A close-knit collaboration in the office

Russell Schanilec, Brad’s son and “manager-in-training,” doesn’t claim divine intervention, but followed his father’s footsteps into insurance after graduating from Concordia College.

“A couple of days later I was in the office with the old man, working with insurance,” said Russell.

It’s a close relationship. Both figuratively and literally — their desks in the home office are just 5 feet apart. And the collaboration is bearing fruit for their customers.

“We run across things that don’t have a clear-cut answer,” said Russell. “We sit down and exchange different ideas, different problems, different solutions. Two minds are always better than one, and I’d say 90 percent of the time we’re on the same page.”

 

Succession planning for the future

In recent years, succession planning has been a key part of Brad’s insurance work.

“When Russell started in 2011, our plan was for him to work seven years as an apprentice, and then we would have a conversation about whether he would continue,” said Brad. “Our seven years are not up yet, but I can’t call him an apprentice anymore.”

“He has learned so much. If I dropped dead today, he would be able to manage the Walsh County Mutual and be extremely successful at it. Working and learning together has been the best plan we could have possibly come up with.

“It just puts a smile on my face that I can work with one of my children,” said Brad. “As a father and an insurance man there’s nothing more gratifying or more satisfying.”