By: Abbey Adams
I look over by the window in Lori Myers office. A tall fish tank towers over me. What’s inside of it? Seahorses. “Most people have never seen one in real life, so it’s kinda cool when kids come in” she says. Definitely not what you would expect to see in a fish tank. However, that’s a testament to Lori’s character; full of surprises.
Insurance has been in Myers’ family for 50 years. “My dad was in this business. He was an independent agent, so I kind of grew up with it, watching him and seeing what he did.” After getting married, having children, and moving to Florida, Lori ultimately came back to the CNY area after hearing news of her Grandmother becoming ill. “My mom said, ‘Can you please come back here?’ I hate New York weather, but I moved back here, especially for my grandma.” After working as a receptionist, and then in customer service, Myers decided to obtain her Insurance license from Bryant & Stratton. She says, “I just loved what I was doing. I loved talking with people, saving them money, making people happy. I was a hero when they walked out, so it was kind of cool. It was a good job.” She went on to own and run an office in Auburn, until word got around about a Syracuse office. Myers flew down to Washington DC to interview for the position. She was the only female and interviewed with a five star retired army general. Her nerves were running high but she left feeling fairly confident. Before leaving for the airport to come back to Syracuse, Myers got a phone call to head back in to do some paperwork; she got the job. “They loved my business plan, and now it’s 11 years later, and we’ve grown” she said of the progress she’s made with Geico.
Lori manages 10 employees at their Erie Blvd location; one of them being her son. When asked what it’s like to manage your kids, she says: “Everyone says, how do you work with your children? They’ve known that they’re not my children here, they’re employees, and I expect more out of them than I do my employees, and they’ve done that, so it makes it real easy.” Her daughter also worked for her as well as her kids’ wives and husbands. Insurance has definitely become a family affair. “The work ethic is huge, because you don’t find that today, but I’ve been lucky. I’ve gotten some good employees who have been here five years plus, and we’re growing.” Lori is heavily involved in the hiring process and makes it clear that everyone is equal in the office. Whatever people are doing outside of her office doors is things she’s also doing inside her office.
Back in the day, insurance was often thought of as a man’s business. Lori planned to turn that idea upside down. “You could work for an owner or be a manager for an office, but didn’t know a lot of women that owned their business.
Within the last 20 years, I think it’s really changed. That’s when I knew I didn’t want to stay an agent. I wanted to own an agency, because I love the public, so I like to do a lot of giving back.” Lori’s office has contributed to The Red Cross, Helping Hounds, The Salvation Army, local schools/colleges (Geico gives away 10,000 pencils/year). They also helped families celebrate Christmas that couldn’t afford it, and have lent a helping hand to those with loved ones in the Army. Currently, she is the sole sponsor of the McMahon Ryan Race “Step Up For Kids” and will be part of the Baldwin Motorcycle run. Giving back is near and dear to Myers’ heart, because growing up, she never thought she would have the means to help others.
Making a career for herself is her greatest accomplishment, and giving back is just an added bonus. She is humble, with every breath she takes and has worked hard for every square inch of the desk sitting in front of her. “When I first got into Geico, my dad said, ‘You’re giving up family business.’ I was a black sheep. I had to hear about it. Then when he found out everything, I said, ‘Dad, you got to come up, you gotta help me find a building.’ So, him and I did that together.” She says, “Almost every day I was calling him, ‘Guess how many policies we wrote?’ He got blown away. He couldn’t believe their offices wrote 250 a month. That was huge back then. So, we’ve written 500 auto apps out of this office in one month. That’s just amazing.”
Not only did Lori succeed in her professional life, but also managed to keep her personal life just as fun and exciting. She’s a scuba diver, motorcycle enthusiast, and has traveled to many places. “I’ve been all over the world. The Philippines, Fiji, Indonesia, Cuba, everywhere, and I love it. If I could live under the water I would. Too bad I can’t open an agency down there” she laughs with a big smile on her face as if one day she just might do it. To say she’s adventurous is an understatement. Myers is also an avid motorcycle rider. “I grew up with a brother that always had a motorcycle, and girls weren’t supposed to have them, so I would steal his dirt bike and ride” until one time she got caught by the police and dragged home. Her parents then banned her from riding it, which in turn, drove her crazy. When she got older, she started out on a smaller bike and loved it. “I got my license, and when I moved back to Syracuse because of my grandma, I started looking into it, and I said, you know what, I’m going to buy a motorcycle.” After buying her own Sportster, Lori’s mom also decided to get her own motorcycle. “She’s 75 years old and is still riding a Harley. She’s really cool.” The pair have gone on cross country trips all over the nation together.
Female empowerment is something Lori exudes effortlessly – no matter what she’s doing. “I just feel that there’s nothing we can’t do, and we just gotta stay strong, and go for your dreams. That’s what I did. I just didn’t let anyone tell me no,” she goes on to say, “I have a granddaughter. I have a daughter, and I want to see them do the same. My granddaughter tells me since she’s been four, she’s going to be an FBI agent. She’s now eight and still says the same thing. Grandma’s there, I will make sure you have every opportunity to do what you want.”
So, what does someone like Lori have to say to women looking forward to paving their own professional career? “I raised my children as a single mom, and I was always worried how I was going to feed them, how I was going to make everything work. At one point, I already had three jobs, and so it was just like, I can’t do this. I don’t have time with them, and it’s either make money or this” she says, “When I moved back to Syracuse and I started at my father’s agency. I wasn’t given anything without earning it. You could’ve worked for him and got more than I did.”
If she can do it, you can too. She pauses for a moment, looks at me and says, “I stay focused. I don’t let anything get me down. If something goes wrong, I fix it, and I get right back up again…It’s like the first time I dropped my motorcycle. Everybody would say, ‘Oh, never again, I’m not going to do that,’ but I think women can do anything they want today. Even in this field, which was predominantly men, it’s proven. I’ve been a top performer, and so can they. It’s amazing.”
To learn more about Lori Myers, visit: https://www.geico.com/insurance-agents/new-york/syracuse/lori-myers/