About wflainsblog

Western Fraternal Life Association was established in 1897 as a Czech fraternal benefit society, providing its members burial insurance, social and ethnic activities, and a means of preserving Czech heritage. Lodges were formed throughout the Midwest and members attended meetings and special events. Today the membership is open to those who are supportive of the purpose of the Association.

Agent Spotlight – Brad Gilson

Brad Gilson 2012 (2)How long have you been in the insurance industry?
50 years, started on March 4th 1963.

What got you involved in Insurance?
“I got out of the service in December and I went to work in January for John Deere. When I changed my car insurance later that year, I was asked if I was interested in selling because my dad was a salesperson. I read the insurance industry information pamphlet and while I was doing that, a gentleman asked me if I was thinking about selling. Later, I got a phone call from the District Manager and we had a meeting. The rest is history and it was a match made in heaven.”

How long have you worked for wfla?
Thirty-four years

You have worked for us for many years, why have you stayed with wfla?

  1. I have been into fraternalism since I was in kindergarten because of my dad.  Now I get both sides, personally and professionally.
  2. I like the attitude of the people in the Home Office.
  3. The contract with insurance for me, personally. I get a pension plan.
  4. WFLA has competitive products.

What’s your favorite product that wfla offers and why?

Value Life- it does three things in one certificate.

  1. It is reasonably priced
  2. There is a no Lapse Clause
  3. It has the effect of being life time term

I like the “guaranteed” fact of any product.

What’s your favorite member benefit and why?
“The Fraternal Herald member magazine because the recipes are good and I am able to keep track of my clients if they pass on or what the lodges that I service are doing. Also, if a member moves we will find out from a returned Fraternal Herald that helps me better serve the members.”

How is working for a fraternal association different from working with a for-profit company?
“The difference is the attitude of a fraternal company. WFLA is more service-orientated than profit-orientated.”

You have attended many lodge meetings, State Meetings, and Conventions. Do you have any favorite memories to share from one of these events?
“I like the camaraderie of the State Meetings. I also like the agent Mid-Year event because you get to see many of the agents, new and old.”

What do you feel is the most challenging part of your job?
Overcoming call reluctance- “You don’t want to call and talk to people. It could be because you are afraid of a ‘no’. You must overcome that and make a call. Understanding that there are days that just need to be paperwork days and the phone needs to stay down.”

What do you find to be the most rewarding part of your job?
“I always get a zing when I get another application because I know that I have helped somebody. When that zing goes away I will know that I am in trouble.”

How many incentive trips have you qualified for? Which trip was your favorite? Why?
“I have qualified for roughly 40. We [my wife and I] have been everywhere from Ireland to Hawaii. I liked Ireland and Hawaii equally. In Hawaii, there is so much patriotism. As a veteran, the thing that sticks out the most is the Arizona [ship] memorial.”

You recently went to Ireland on an incentive trip, what is something about that trip that you will never forget?
“First, the artistic abilities of the people at the Waterford Crystal. It was amazing to see them hand sculpt all of the crystal, and we watched them fine-tune the pieces. Blarney Castle- I wasn’t able to kiss the stone, but I will remember looking at the grounds around it. The flowers were impressive. Lastly, I love fish and chips.”

Do you have any favorite stories about members you have helped?
“In one case, the father died of a heart attack and 4 years later the mother died of cancer. The children were able to use our orphans benefit to go to community college. After that they were able to continue their schooling. Another example I saw was when a large term policy was bought. The husband was killed in a car accident, and the death benefit paid for the remainder of the house.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
“I am an avid sports fan- I was a sports official for 27 years at the high school and college level. I officiated at baseball, softball, football, and basketball games. I am also a Rail Fan (trains) I could go to Newton [Kansas] and watch the rail yard and not be bored. It gets rid of stress, as well. I also enjoy traveling.

What do you plan to do once you retire?
“First, I have to figure out when I am going to retire. I would make the world’s worst couch potato, I will be bored. I have no intention of ever fully retiring. As long as I am physically and mentally able to do the job, I will continue to do my job. I plan to work smarter not harder, as the years go on. If I ever did retire, I would love to travel. I would like to go to Alaska because I have never been there.”

Adios, Mr. Wolfe!

2011 Howard Wolfe 009 USE THIS ONEAfter a 45-year career at Western Fraternal Life Association (wfla) in Cedar Rapids President Jim Wolfe will be retiring at the end of June.

Jim’s career at wfla began when he was hired in the I.T. department in 1968. He became office manager in 1973. He was appointed Association Secretary in 1979. Jim became Vice President and Secretary in 2000, and was elected President in 2007. He has served on the boards of wfla, the American Fraternal Alliance and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.

Jim says his favorite aspect about working at wfla has been that he has, “made friends all over the country.”

Jim is looking forward to traveling more with his wife, Judy, especially to see his son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids in Kansas City. He is also excited to spend more time doing his favorite hobbies: fishing, hunting, and golfing.

We wish you well, Mr. Wolfe.

Enjoy retirement.