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DOWNEY - Army brat Adam Tafoya, the eldest of four children (two boys and two girls), first joined the State Farm group fifteen years ago on June 1, 1998 as a claims representative, a week after he graduated from Whittier College with a bachelor's in political science, with a major in international relations and a minor in military strategy.
His dad, Paul, had served in the US Army for ten years assigned to the artillery, and had attained the rank of Master Sergeant, after which he was a Reserve in the National Guard for fifteen years. He retired in 2003.
Adam thus joined State Farm five years before his dad's retirement.
Years before, the family had moved around a bit, and this irked their mom; before they finally settled down in Whittier, Adam's sister, Paula Eve, had in fact been born in Oklahoma.
In a way this was fitting because his grandpa on his father's side, Frank, was 25 percent Arapaho and 75 percent Mexican. (His mom's family was from Jalisco, Mexico). Grandpa Frank had grown up in Norwalk and worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.
Adam grew up in Whittier and attended Nazarene Christian (Elementary) School in Norwalk. Between his 8th and 9th years, he remembers helping his dad deliver food products for his grandpa Francis (on his mother's side) as he operated his own business, Franco's Mexican Food Products. Adam's mom, Mary, worked for the Orange County Health Department as a psychiatric technician.
Thus Adam notes that his family had a tradition of entrepreneurship, as well as working for the railroad.
Graduation from Whittier Christian High in 1989 was accompanied by football offers from such universities as Santa Barbara and the like, to play either on the offensive line or as a defensive tackle, but he turned them down as he opted to concentrate more on academics.
Straight from high school, Adam attended a vocational school in La Puente for two years, in hopes of following his mom in the psychiatric technician field. But he was not really enthused about it. By this time he had started working for the May Co. in Brea, soon to morph into Robinsons-May. He worked there for eleven years, from 1989 to 2001, in the clothes and shoes department.
From 1994 to 1995 he attended Rio Hondo Community College, then transferred to Whittier College. By the time 1998 rolled around, Adam had his bachelor's degree (the first in the family to do so) and a job offer from State Farm.
This had come about because along the way, a few people had suggested that he had the makings of a good insurance agent. Among those who encouraged him in this direction were his counselor at Whittier College and a State Farm agent who facilitated, on the advice of his parents, the issuance of his driver's license when he was 16.
"When my future wife, Nicolle, and I were dating, my future father-in-law even suggested I would be good working in the insurance field," Adam said.
"This explains why I had a job waiting at State Farm. I had to start as a claims rep," Adam added. The training as an agent (and the attendant licensing requirements) took all of three years.
On February 1, 2001, Adam started his very first, his very own State Farm agency. It was here in Downey. "I remember the address well," he said. "It was at 11445 Paramount Blvd., Ste. E, cross street Firestone Boulevard."
On September 1, 2006, State Farm promoted him to Agency Field Consultant, part of management, the primary function of which was to coach agents and their teams.
After some five and a half years later, in 2011, he was asked if he would like to run his own agency again. He had an inkling it was in Downey, and was Stan Carmichael's former agency located at 10802, Ste. B, on Downey Avenue, which he took over that October. He also took over Carmichael's spot as State Farm's representative in Rotary. He is also a member of the Downey Chamber of Commerce. He's currently serving as president of the Long Beach Chapter of the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors as well.
Right now he's in the midst of interviewing candidates to fill positions left vacant by the departure of key staff. Adam says, professionally, there are three main qualities he's looking for as members of his new team: 1) coachability; 2) goal-oriented; and 3) accountability.
Meanwhile, he says things are stirring in the corporate front. State Farm is gearing up to promote safe driving among students in schools. One of its advance promo literature includes a warning that auto crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in North America. Thus, State Farm has issued this reminder, "If we can reinforce habits like remembering to think "2N2" whenever teens drive - keeping 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel - we'll save lives together."
The promo goes on: "The 2013 celebration goes into overdrive October 18-26, when local State Farm agents will host student-focused events across North America. It's a chance for communities to rally around young drivers and encourage them to make safe driving choices every time they're behind the wheel."
Adam says the celebration will center around 'commitments'-- by students, family, friends and school staff members. "The more commitments made, the better one's chances of winning a grant (in the order of $100,000) for his/her school..."
He says watch for further announcements from State Farm.
Adam says as far as he's concerned, spending time with family is his number one priority. Wife Nicolle, a CSU-Fullerton graduate with a psychology degree and teaching credentials from Chapman University, home schools their children: Samantha Rose (who turns 10 next week); Luke Paulo, 8; and Nicholas James, 6.
Passionate about camping and hiking, he's looking forward to hiking Yosemite's Half Dome once again. He says he visited it a long time ago as a teenager. Adam is 43 and coaches his young son's Palos Verdes Little League baseball team. One of his favorite places to visit is Palos Verdes' Terra Nea Resort, to catch its fascinating "tide pools."
Personally, Adam says "four things drive everything I do": faith, family, friends, and farm - meaning 'State Farm'.
Published: April 4, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 51