By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
An era ended quietly in Keizer last week.
After 53 years as a State Farm insurance agent, George Goesch retired without fanfare at the end of the year.
The lack of fanfare was George’s desire. He politely declined a request for an interview from the Keizertimes. George turned 80 on Wednesday.
The agency at 5095 River Road still had George’s name on the door Tuesday, but is now being run by Scott Ayres.
“It’s good,” Ayres said this week. “They’re big shoes to fill. But it’s also pretty exciting, having the chance to work with some of his clients. The reception so far has been really warm. I’m excited to bring some fresh folks in here.”
Ayres previously ran an insurance agency with a different company for 11 years, starting from scratch in 1999. He was recruited to join State Farm and spent the last six years in corporate, helping coach agents about financial services.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure, because I’ve run an agency before. Obviously George Goesch is a titan in this community, a real staple. A lot of people have told me that,” Ayres said with a chuckle. “But at the same time, a lot of people have also said they are glad this office is still open.”
Ayres only got to work with George Goesch during the brief transition time.
“He gave me some bits and pieces of the business, how to take care of people, things like that,” Ayres said. “George has a great sense of humor. A lot of what he shared was about keeping things light hearted. His ability to relate to clients is something I try to take after him on.”
Ayres noted there is a big difference in taking over an agency in 2016 versus starting one in 1999.
“How people are buying insurance, expectations and needs are changing,” he said. “But it’s still mainly a relationship business. You try to have a good conversation with people.”
While George has retired, his family is still heavily involved with State Farm. It all started when George went to work for the company on Oct. 1, 1962. Son Sam became a Keizer State Farm agent in June 1981. Another son, Joel, became a State Farm agent shortly after that in Washington. Both are still agents.
Daughter Tammy went to Stanford on a State Farm Foundation scholarship and worked for State Farm during the summers. Rosemary worked in Sam’s office for a while, while youngest son George Kurt worked as an underwriter for a while.
“He was a great example to his kids,” Sam said of his dad. “He’s a very hard worker. He’s honest in his dealings. He always puts the other person first in his relationships.”
Sam recalled first wanting to be a State Farm agent.
“I went to Lancaster Mall with dad one night,” Sam said. “It seemed like everyone knew him. That was when it clicked. That’s what I wanted to do.”
In 1981 Sam was offered the chance to run his own agency, with a caveat: he wouldn’t have the opportunity to share an office with his dad.
“That disappointed me, but I wanted to be a State Farm agent badly enough that I didn’t care,” Sam said. “That first year I lived at his house, so we talked business all the time. We still do that.”