By Jann Wiswall
Some people are afraid of change; others embrace it.
The staff at Weed Ross Agency has been looking forward to a major change since Gary Ross announced his retirement and Sean Cornelius prepares to take his place.
“Gary is just the best person to work for and we’ll miss him,” said Roseann Hintz, who has worked for the insurance agency since Ross started there in 1987. But she and fellow employee Laurie James know that the level of service won’t change under Cornelius’ leadership.
“Customers will get the same personalized care they’ve always had,” James said.
Ross, of course, is excited about retiring.
“I retire on March 10. By the 17th, my wife and I will be in New Orleans on a fishing trip,” he said with a broad smile.
But he also knows he will miss the work and the people he has met over all these years. “I’ve been an agent for 40 years and have had some of the same customers since the very beginning,” he said.
For his part, Cornelius is excited about running the business, getting to know the customers and raising his young children in Ellicottville.
He grew up in Erie, PA (his dad was an insurance agent there), snowboarded at Holiday Valley, went to St. Bonaventure University and worked at Mud Sweat & Gears.
“There’s just something about Ellicottville,” he said.
Although he worked in Florida for several years and met his wife there, he got the chance to return to Western New York when he joined a Dunkirk agency as insurance producer and then moved to another agency in Brocton. During that period, he met Ross through the Iroquois Insurance Group, a network of insurance agencies.
Ross hired Cornelius in 2014 with an eye toward preparing him to take over his business.
Cornelius has already met many of Weed Ross’s customers in person and is introducing his own customers to the area at the same time.
“Ellicottville is a very special place where people embrace the “shop local” mentality,” he said. “Our customers like face-to-face interaction.”
Ross noted that most customers “have home, auto, life and other coverage through us, but they don’t have to have all their policies with one company. As a small, independent agency we can tailor products and services from many different companies to protect what customers care about.”
“When you buy insurance on the internet, you might save a little money, but you lose out on personalized service,” he continued. “When you work with Weed Ross, you get the right coverage along with a problem solver, a go-between, a negotiator and an advocate.”
Plus, Weed Ross has a unique knowledge of the vacation home insurance market.
“Vacation homeowners who arrive on Friday and discover a problem can count on us to not only report the problem to the insurance carrier, but also find them temporary lodging and arrange for repairs. That’s a unique relationship, and a very important one.”
“Sean is the perfect person to take over the agency because he knows that customers come first above all else,” said Ross. “I have no doubt that this will be a smooth transition.”
The Weed Ross Agency is located in the center of the Village at 22 Monroe Street. For information, visit www.weedross.com or call (716) 699-2388.