Background and life's experiences

As you journey through life, you may often wonder if the business you deal with has experienced some of the risks you face, or much less cares. Is the business just a business for the owner, or do they really have as one of their core values assisting their clients to be in the best possible position when presented with the possible risks of life? Has this understanding been just gained book theory, or accumulated knowledge from life’s experiences and ones background? A balance between the two could bring with it a balanced perspective of reality for the litigious, unforgiving, uncaring, self-centered, and neglectful culture we find ourselves in today.

Life's experiences can provide a wealth of knowledge. With that in mind we do our best to position our clients so that they are in the best possible position, when presented with risk. At times in my life I have not been in the best position when presented with risk, leaving me to deal with some painful aftermath. We trust our experience and assistance will help you to have a solid foundation upon which you can build as you journey through life. Thanks for stopping by today. We appreciate you and the confidence you have placed in our business.

My background and life experiences follow:

I was born into the home of a very loving family in southern Michigan near Jackson and enjoyed being a pastor’s son with one younger brother and three younger sisters. I found it interesting learning and watching my father deal with the church leaders and congregations in the different churches he ministered in while I was growing up. One was a small town church; another was very rural church and the other a suburbia church on the edge of a very large metropolitan community. This background was later to provide the foundation for my current work with religious organizations and my personal clients. I appreciate being a people person and interacting with people of all types. It is amazing how different people can be, as I interact with them and assist them with their business matters.

During my childhood and teen years, I usually spent half of the summer working with one set of grandparents, and the other half with the other. This wonderful choice by my parents was a unique learning opportunity, both were dairy farmers and willing give me time. This valuable knowledge foundation has assisted me throughout life. My grandfather Phelps liked to sit and talk a lot, refering to his expressed pearls of wisdom as horse sense. My grandfather Cobbin left me with a keen sense of the importance of reading and following the Bible as the authority for my life.  Both sets of grandparents made learning fun with them in a very special environment. Later I graduated from Northwest High School on the North edge of Jackson. After graduation, I decided to pursue education toward a medical degree at Jackson Community College, as extension studies for later attending Michigan State University. The program was a two-year program that completed with an AA degree, an associate's degree in arts and sciences. During these two years I had the unique opportunity to work with and learn from my four patient uncles. Each uncle owned their own business; one was a jeweler, another an electrician, another a carpenter, and the other a florist. I am very grateful for the valuable knowledge gained from them. Their insights and shared knowledge provided a good foundation of understanding for me to building upon in life as well. The building trades provided knowledge of how buildings are put together. I use this knowledge everyday as I work with completing valuations for the buildings I insure for my clients. The opportunities with the jeweler provided the insight I use in understanding jewelry matters as I seek to properly insure my client's jewelry. The florist provided an understanding of landscaping and plants that I use from time to time as well. As I look back through life, it has amazed me how life can provide such educational opportunities and knowledge, which can assist you in your life's work, but this may not always be apparent to you at the time.

Just before graduation from the community college, I was involved in a terrible auto accident as a passenger. This required many months of recovery. Through this I gained first hand experience on how important insurance can be in assisting one with the possible risks of life. Over the summer while still recovering, I decided to change the course of my life and learn how to work with churches, related ministries, and to improve my people skills for that work. I enrolled in a private church-sponsored college in Minnesota. It proved to be a great learning experience and a fun year. With the summer came the need to earn money for the next year of college so I decided to get a taste of what it was like to work for a large corporation and did some work for General Motors Corporation in Flint, Michigan. The summer experience quickly helped me realize that I did not want to spend my life doing that line of work. I lived at home during that summer and learned the struggles my father went through in an attempt to start a new church on the edge of Flint, Michigan. I found that being the pastor of an on-going church is much different than starting one. You have to be able to do almost everything just as I have had to do, at times with my own business. It can be a challenge at times, as you deal with balancing time and money to gain the most effective results. Fall came and the college I had attended as a junior had some leadership problems;  I therefore, decided to attend another private church-sponsored school in Watertown, Wisconsin, which proved to be a great choice. I graduated with my BA, and an educational background for working with people and religious organizations. During my junior and senior school years I worked with several churches in various aspects of ministry to gain some hands on experience. This was a required part of my education and helped me learn more about how churches operate. I also was challenged continually by the college president a great friend who encouraged excellence in life, Dr. B. Myron Cedarholm and his wife. He would continually say Dorr, "work in the church should be an expected higher plain of excellence and trust." I then returned to finish post-graduate work in church administration, to provide added educational background for working with religious organizations and individuals. After graduation I decided to gain some further practical experience and worked on the staff of two different churches over the next several years in several different areas. The first was a city church in St. Paul, Minnesota; the second church was in suburbia Columbus, Ohio both helped me learned some very practical knowledge about churches.

After some time at the second church, as well as a lot of thinking and some changes in my life, I felt I was ready to pursue the work I have done for the past thirty plus years; that of assisting religious organizations, small businesses, and individuals with the risks they face in life. During this time of thought and transition there were three men that were special friends and mentors who took the time to mentor me and prepare me for this important transition in my life. Their foresight, effort, time, patience, and forgiveness at times, provided a very successful transition, I shall forever be grateful. The first was my father, Rev. Burt Phelps, who gave me many practical principles for life and business until his death several years ago. The loss of my very close father was very difficult to deal with and accept. The second was Dr. Ray Hein, a business owner and church consultant, my father's mentor as well as my own. Dr. Hein was well known in religious circles of the Midwest, working with many churches and other religious organizations, consulting them in the areas of master planning, architecture, financing, and insurance as he sought to assist them in being an organization of excellence.  Dr. Hein was a very valuable resource who introduced me to many people through the years, who are real assets in my work. He continued to assist me in my life and work up until just before his death, several years ago. The third was Mr. James Keim, currently Regional Vice President of GuideOne Insurance Company, who opened the door of opportunity for me to do my present work. Mr. Keim has very patiently provided mentoring in the insurance arena over the years to the present, which has provided the other aspects for the solid foundation that has been built over the years.  I have continued to the present to broaden my educational knowledge, adding skills, tools, and abilities to cover many of the areas of risk my clients face each and every day. This has included hours of reading and continuing education, both formal and informal, to keep my proficiency current in all the different areas of discipline. It seems there is much change in the challenging world we find ourselves in today.

I am married to a very special woman and a very important partner in life, a critical relationship that must be a quality one for any business owner in today's demanding culture, the father of one son and  two daughters, we make our home in Columbus, Ohio. I am involved in our local church and some industry organizations. I enjoy doing things with my wife and children, as well as our friends. Activities I enjoy include being with my wife, travel, photography, racquetball, going to children's sports or their other activities, walking in the early morning hours, reading and listening to relaxing music. We live in such a fast paced, and hectic world, it is nice to relax sometimes by listening to some soothing music, and smell the roses while living life or working; it can both sooth and relax ones heart and mind.

I have found that life has given me many different kinds of friends who are special gifts in life. Each friend has added valuable learning opportunities of challenge, color, variety and spice to my life as they interact with me bringing with them their varied backgrounds, training, and life experiences into my life. Some have left very big impacts on my life, some have helped me understand from their own experiences the cost of poor choices in life. Some aspects of risk I would never had known, if it were not for some friends that took the time to share their life with me.  I believe we can learn by our own expeniences or those of others, the choice is ours. There are some things I have realized are better learned by observing the experiences of others. This choice for some things I am greatful was made correctly as I avoided much pain and sorrow in life I could have otherwise experienced in life.

I have traveled, taken pictures and talked with many people in many exotic places around the world. This had added an unexpected appreciation of what life has to offer in different settings. The challenges and risks others face can be mind broadening to say the least.  I have visited countries in Africa, the Middle East, much of Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean Islands and most of North America. I have walked in the deserts of Africa, the Middle East, and Western United States. I have viewed and climbed mountains in Alaska, Canadian Rockies, Western United States, Switzerland and Austria. We have sailed on large ocean liners in the inland Alaskan water-way as well as the Caribbean and Mediterranean Sea. I have visited many of the exotic islands in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. I have traveled the Nile river of Egypt, the Rhine River through Europe, walked the streets of old cities of the world such as Rome, Jerusalem, Jericho, Cairo, Athens, Madrid, Venia, Geneva, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, just to name a few. The different peoples and countries of the world are an education in and of themselves. They bring a very special appreciation of thankfulness of what we are so blessed to enjoy in our country.

I have seen and experianced first hand in life how important risk management is personally, especially for our physical bodies, our relationships, our finances, our property, other assets, and our business. Sometimes when we had a risk develop, we were ready and well prepared and sometimes not. It is amazing what you can learn form the mistakes of life. Over-looked details and aspects of risk management can be costly. From the school of hard knocks in life, I have watched our family and myself, deal with the emotional and physical strain as well as the financial aftermath of:  death of my father, cancer strike one of our daughters and see her survive miraculously, the death of my father-in-law, cancer strike other close family members, some survived and some did not. We had to deal with the death of other close family members, thereafter. The aging of relatives has presented its challenges at times as we have sought to deal with them lovingly and wisely. I have had three very serious auto accidents of my own, involving much pain and physical trauma, legal issues and attorneys. I also experienced the loss of physical health for a time to the point of being partially disabled. I have had changes in marital status, which has been interesting to deal with in life. In our business I have dealt with unwise financial transactions, dishonest employees, loss of employees, and thefts of several types. There have been some very challenging issues to deal with in life, in our family, the changing industry, economy, clients, society and the world.

Working with our many personal, small business, and religious institutional clients over the last thirty plus years, I have experienced with them almost all of the risks one could imagine. Some clients have been in a position to weather the situations; some were not as well prepared.

It is our company mission to assist our clients with the risks that they deal with and might deal with, and in doing so to put them in the best possible position to provide security and peace of mind in our ever changing and challenging world. We believe this will provide the foundation for healthy and growing relationships in our client’s personal life, church, community and business. 

We care about our clients and desire to offer them excellence in business as we journey together in a relationship and face life's challenges and joys.