The Milestone Story
We Protect the Promises You Make
When you, Milestone and yes… even the insurance carrier all win, real partnership and real value begins for you. Milestone Risk Management Services has spent the last 25 years discerning client / carrier relational fits through understanding their client’s business at a truly intimate level. We uncover your best practices and how you are lowering your risk, then showcase your commitment to excellence to the carriers. The results are lower premiums, more comprehensive coverage and a better client experience. It also allows you to focus on building your business, protects your interests down to the detail and ensures you can keep the promises that you make.
Every company has a story that goes to the heart of who they are and what they believe. Below is our story…
Helping People Keep Their Promises
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
– Robert Frost from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
Promises are commitments children often take seriously yet adults do not. As we grow older we often make excuses about time, money, and other priorities that distract us from keeping promises made to loved ones.
Sometimes these promises are overt; other times, implied. Providing financially for families is an implied promise men make when they marry. Because my dad did not keep such a promise, I have made it my business – literally – to help others do so.
I remember well the singular event that so clearly defines who I am as a person and that which drives the core values of the business I started.
On June 30, 1970, I, newly graduated from high school, was home with my 14-year-old brother Ty and my mom, who was recuperating from cancer surgery. I answered a knock at the door to discover a grim-looking police officer standing before me. His large body stood as a silhouette against the daylight in the doorframe, and his firm voice requested that I immediately get my mother.
“What is he doing here?” I wondered to myself. “Have we broken the law?” I helped my mom into our living room and eased her onto the couch, as she was still recuperating from major surgery. I held her hand as the police officer announced the shocking news: “Mrs. Hoefer, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your husband died this morning of a massive heart attack while driving to work.” My mom stared into space, and my brother sobbed uncontrollably.
I knew then that my life had changed profoundly.
Where There’s No Will, There’s No Way
We soon discovered there was no will, no savings and no life insurance, except for a mere $10,000 policy naming my dad’s business partner as the beneficiary. Dad, more earnest than entrepreneurial, had owned a printing shop. Yet, despite his long hours of work, the business never made much money, and he was oblivious to business and personal financial planning. Despite his lack of awareness, he was still responsible for his family, his partner and his employees. All were harmed. Some never recovered.
Now, I had to be responsible, supporting both my mom and brother. Rather than attend the state university as planned, I enrolled in a more affordable junior college. I then worked in the evening and even helped with household chores, because my mom underwent four more cancer surgeries.
The one thing I did not do was grieve my dad’s death. Not once did I shed a tear, as I was too busy fulfilling a myriad of promises.
However, there was one important promise that was never fulfilled. I was busy caring for my mother, working and studying and never noticed that my younger brother was lost in all the confusion. He was too young to assume control of his life, and no one around him provided guidance. His life simply stopped in time.
Instead of exhausting me, these obligations fueled me with purpose. As I entered the insurance profession, I vowed I would make a positive difference for the clients I served. I would help business owners keep the promises they made to their families: to take good care of them financially no matter what the circumstances. I vowed that I would do all in my power so others would not end up nearly destitute as our family had.
One Failed Promise Begets a Fulfilled One
One of my earliest clients was Gary, a long-time friend who started out with a simple home and auto insurance policy. Gary started his own business that grew over the years into a very profitable enterprise, providing substantial salaries to both Gary and his son, Randy.
When I discovered that their business was doing extremely well and that Randy was a 40 percent owner, I tried to discuss the merits of succession planning but ran into resistance from Gary. Although he feigned the excuse that he was too busy, he finally admitted that he hated life insurance and any discussion related to estate planning and succession planning.
This is typical of strong-willed entrepreneurs, as they do not like to discuss things they cannot control. But I persevered, as I knew personally the importance of proper planning. Finally, after months of standing my ground with Gary and with encouragement from Randy, Gary agreed to meet with an estate planning attorney. The actual succession plan documents took more than two years to create and another several months to fund with life insurance. I personally attended every meeting with the attorney, so that my strong commitment to complete this transaction was evident to Gary, his wife Sharon and Randy.
This was the most difficult and protracted estate and succession plan I had ever undertaken. Yet, as you will soon realize, it was the most gratifying. Upon closure, I called Randy to congratulate him and then teased him by saying:
“Randy, you’re a good looking guy with a very successful business. You’re quite a catch! Now with the estate plan and succession planning behind you, when are you going to settle down with a wife?”
To this Randy responded earnestly:
“Ron, until you convinced my father of the importance of a buy-sell contract and funded it with life insurance, what promise could I possibly make to a wife? I had no future. All I really had was the present. It could have ended any day with the untimely death of my father. Thanks for what you did for me.”
I flashed back to June of 1970, and my eyes filled with tears. I knew at that moment that even though my dad’s failure to keep promises had caused a great deal of strife in my life, I had just helped another dad fulfill his promises to his son. I understood clearly the basis of the passion that had driven me for the past 25 years. I said a quiet prayer for my dad, asked for his forgiveness and grieved his death for the first time.
Randy’s gratitude was the beginning of many words of thanks either in person or in writing. This is because Milestone works only with clients on a total relationship basis. In this way, we are viewed as a strategic partner and trusted advisor for their business and personal insurance needs rather than as a mere insurance broker. The business owners we work with on this level grasp the immense responsibility of their stewardship position. They also desire and appreciate our assistance in protecting the promises they make to their families, partners, and employees.