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All in the Family

Jeff Cochran's kids are a key part of his business, and State Farm has always been part of the clan

Like father, like son. And like daughter.

Jeff Cochran’s State Farm agency is a family affair. Son Tanner Cochran has worked with Jeff for four years, and daughter Nikki McPartland for 11, both as licensed agents.

Another licensed agent, Dawn Toney, has been a Cochran agent for 19 years. Tracy Clavey has five years as a licensed Cochran agent, and Joey Lamoureux came aboard this year.

Jeff’s team handles sales and customer service, freeing Jeff to focus on business development. “I tell the team: My job is to get the phone to ring, your job is to take care of the clients,” Jeff says.  “They do a really good job.”

For Tanner, working with his dad came naturally. “I saw how hard he worked when I was younger,” Tanner recalls. “He was laid off around 2002, did odd jobs, then came home to study for his state licenses. He balanced raising us, helping mom, and starting his own company – and the power at home never flickered once. Fast forward to my early adult years. I wanted consistency and a fun work environment. Here we have both. I have grown a lot here, and I hope to be able to do for my family what he did for us.”

Nikki’s route took a more indirect path. She started working at a pizza shop at 16, while also working for her dad. “Just before my one-year anniversary at Little Caesars, I decided to work full-time with my dad,” she says. “We’ve always been really close, plus the pay was better, hours more consistent, and I didn’t come home covered in flour.”

In 2013, Nikki left the agency to return to retail, where she worked for two years. “Although this was a good time for growth, new experiences and making friends, I realized I had made a huge mistake and hopped back on the State Farm wagon,” she says. “Working with my dad, brother and the rest of the team is wonderful. We all work well together. It’s awesome when he takes us all on a trip at the beginning of the year to somewhere like Wintergreen or Fort Lauderdale – it helps us find inspiration for the goals for the year.”

State Farm is also part of the family. Jeff was inspired by his uncle, a State Farm agent, to get into the insurance business, and he’s been a State Farm client himself since he was 16. “I’m very loyal to the brand,” Jeff says. “The company’s always been very good to me as a customer and as an agent. My kids have grown up with State Farm, too, and they’re very loyal also.” Dawn has been insured by State Farm for over 20 years, too.

“We believe in the company,” Jeff says.

Jeff particularly likes how State Farm gives agents “draft authority” as they see fit. Jeff recalls a client who lost everything in a house fire. With his draft authority, he wrote a substantial check against the client’s claim amount to use for immediate shelter, food and clothing needs.

“It’s nice to be able to do that for customers who don’t have the means,” Jeff says.

As with most insurance agencies, about 95% of business comes from home, life, and auto lines. State Farm also partners with Quicken and Rocket Mortgage to offer home loans, and with a financial company to offer annuities, mutual-fund investing and tax-deferred college savings plans.

Jeff, a graduate of Virginia Tech, spends a lot of work time on community involvement in Powhatan County, where his agency is based. He’s a member of Powhatan’s Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, as well as a business networking group. After hours, he and wife Joi enjoy relaxing at their North Myrtle Beach vacation home and traveling, recently visiting Pennsylvania’s Nemacolin resort. Jeff also is a member of a motorcycle club and plans regular excursions on his Harley Davidson Ultra Classic.

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