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Tracy Frank, Published August 12 2010

Gary Griffeth markes 50 years in insurance business

If Gary Griffeth walks into a room of 50 people, he’ll likely know 20 of them.

That’s according to his sister Carol Argall, who has worked with her brother in insurance for the past six years.

“It’s just fun for me when we’re in the middle of North Dakota and every community we go to and many farms that we drive by, he’s got a story to tell about who he knows and how he knew them and what he did for their insurance needs,” she said.

The 78-year-old Fargo man has had plenty of opportunities to meet people. He’s been in the insurance industry since 1960.

Griffeth was a school administrator for five years before turning to insurance sales.

“All of my teachers told me I belonged in sales,” he said.

His father was a used-car salesman, but that was never a path Griffeth wanted to pursue, he said.

Then, in the summer of 1960, he started writing down everything he thought he could do, and it all funneled into sales, he said.

“I loved education, but in all sincerity, I couldn’t support my family,” he said.

His desire to control how much he traveled away from his family drew him to insurance sales, so he walked into American Life and Casualty that afternoon and asked for a job.

Fifty years later, Griffeth is still at it. He is a Chartered Life Underwriter, a designation for advanced life insurance and financial planning, and owns the Insurance Center at 324 N. University Drive in Fargo. His wife, Charlotte Griffeth, has been running the books for the business since 1981.

“It’s a great feeling to help people of all ages,” he said. “People of all walks of life need protection.”

Those who know Griffeth say he doesn’t use high-pressure sales tactics, but is honest and provides good service.

Larry Monico of Park Rapids, Minn., has been one of Griffeth’s clients since 1965.

“He’s very sincere, very honest, very dedicated to what he does,” Monico said. “That’s what makes him what he is.”

Argall, one of 26 independent agents affiliated with Griffeth’s Insurance Center, said she’s learned everything she knows about the industry from her brother.

“Sometimes dealing with financial matters doesn’t seem like fun or really even enjoyable for some folks to talk about, and Gary finds ways to make them comfortable and make them a friend and yet do a high-quality job of meeting their needs,” Argall said.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526