Stalling one dream for another

NEWPORT BEACH — For local businessman Eric Siess and his wife, the dream was to spend this Christmas in a new home together.

However, the couple, who just celebrated their one-year anniversary in September, decided to realize a different dream: opening a business.

"We were looking for a house," Siess, 30, said, adding that they had been looking for a three-bedroom home that would accommodate the couple's plans to start a family. "But, we decided that a better investment would be in growing a business which would better benefit us in the future."

On Jan. 3, that dream will be realized. After eight years of working in life and financial insurance for multiple companies, Siess will open his own State Farm office in a Newport Beach business complex on Dover Drive.

"I was a little emotional at first, as any one would be when they thought they were going to have a house," Jenna said. "But, in the long run I think that this will be better for us."

The couple had originally planned to move out of their Aliso Viejo apartment into a townhome, but a small home would not have been practical when the couple decided to have children, she explained.

However, once she earns her Registered Nursing license from Saddleback college in Mission Viejo and the new business is growing, a larger home will be possible, she said.

Although State Farm is a Fortune 500 company with offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, when an agent opens his own office, that agent has a large degree of autonomy, much like a small-business owner, Siess said.

Agents also go through an full-time training program to obtain their state and federal licenses to sell the different kinds of home, life and vehicle insurance policies.

"I love having the State Farm name behind me," Siess said. "But, being a small business owner and my own boss, enables me to build up an agency and run the business the way I think it should be done."

To Eric Siess, the way things should be done is though human contact and establishing real relationships, he said.

"Too often now when you talk to someone on the phone about insurance, they're more like order-takers than someone who tries to get to know you and how to serve you best," Siess said. "And I hate that."

Newport Beach has other insurance agents, including some from State Farm, but Siess isn't worried about competition, he said.

About 90% of State Farm agents who open their own offices are successful, a State Farm official confirmed on Friday.

The figure is reassuring to both of the Siesses, who deliberated long and hard before putting one dream before another.

"Of course there's always the worry of 'what happens if we lose all our money,'" Jenna Siess said. "But I have faith in my husband."

So, for Siess's plans to one day soon to begin a family combined with his love of his work, the new office really is the start of a dream come true.

"When I first started and someone told me, 'Eric, you're going to be able to sell a product that can secure a family in their greatest time of need,' it really found a place in my heart," he said.

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