Fortify Group has known Terry and Pam Hejny since they were new parents and home owners in Geneva. That was 27 years and several hometowns and job changes ago. But they took us with them and we’re so glad they did.
(Disclaimer: We have no control over the weather once customers move away. Things were pretty quiet when the Hejnys lived in the same town as their insurance agents. Nearly all their claims came after moving away…)
How long have we called Terry and Pam Hejny customers?
Well, the first time they shook hands with agents at Fortify Group (then Walter Insurance & Real Estate) their daughters were 4 and 2.
The event looming large in their lives was kindergarten at Geneva Elementary across the street from their home.
In the 2017 photo they shared with us, Terry and Pam stand in the center of a black-and-white family portrait, framed by their blond and brunette daughters, with husbands by their sides and two grandsons with baby-tooth smiles in the front row.
There are about 27 years, two hometowns and several job changes in between.
The couple left Geneva in 2005, but they didn’t leave Fortify Group.
“We are the kind of people that loyalty...it means a lot. We’ve had good service and coverage so it never crossed our mind to leave,” Terry said.
They also liked keeping a connection back to the town where they raised their girls. “Geneva’s still our home town. When you spend 25 years someplace and become embedded, it stays with you,” he said.
When Nebraska weather wreaked havoc on their property (three times!) it was nice to hear a familiar voice as they called in their claim, Terry said: a little comfort in the midst of crisis.
The Hejny family came to Fortify in 1991, through a merger of local agencies. Terry taught agricultural education and served as FFA advisor at Geneva High School - his first job after graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Pam worked as a surgical technician.
They were the proud, if anxious, owners of a light-green ranch home with a large backyard, and new parents to Ashley and Courtney. At the time, insurance meant protecting their vehicles and their home. “Buying a house was a big step. It was scary. Insurance and the whole bit was new to us and we had two little ones in tow,” Pam recalled.
Looking back, though, those years were blessed, they said. “Geneva was just small enough and just big enough. We could be involved in the community and our daughters could be involved with the school,” Terry said.
It’s surprising how fast 25 years slip by. Suddenly, their girls were young adults. The Hejnys were insuring four cars and two young drivers. School meant university. Terry was now the Extension Educator for Fillmore County and a recent graduate of the Nebraska LEAD Program (a two-year leadership development program through the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council).
Time to start another chapter of their life.
“Our youngest daughter, Courtney, graduated high school and two days later we moved,” Terry said. He began his role with Cass County Extension and they made their home in Eagle, putting them closer to family near Union and Milford, and to Terry’s graduate classes.
Ironically, things were pretty quiet when they lived in the same town as their insurance agents. Nearly all their claims came after moving away.
In March of 2009, an early spring storm wreaked havoc on their home. A supercell thunderstorm produced numerous tornadoes in eastern Nebraska, one touching down on the edge of Eagle. The damage to the Hejnys home was officially classified as “very high wind damage,” Terry said. But the winds in excess of 100 mph did plenty of damage, no matter what they were called. The storm took portions of their roof, garage doors and siding and left water damage inside -- about $35,000 of damage in all.
Pam took care of the details and paperwork, while helping one of her daughter’s prepare for her June wedding. “There was no grief; no hassle. (Nationwide and Fortify Group) just took care of it,” she said.
Nebraska weather took its toll again in 2011, this time damaging their vehicle in a long-term parking lot at Eppley Airfield. When the Hejnys returned from a vacation at Walt Disney World, they were met with the aftermath of a violent storm that dropped baseball-sized hail and temporarily closed the Omaha airport.
“Our car was totaled...every car in that parking lot was totaled. We couldn’t even drive it. The moon roof was hanging down,” Terry remembers.
The service of their claim adjuster from Nationwide still impresses them. With rental cars scarce, the adjuster secured a rental car and had the vehicle towed back to their home to complete the assessment.
In 2012, Pam and Terry moved to their brick townhome near Lincoln’s Wilderness Ridge golf course, with a spacious deck and a peaceful creek running through the backyard. Things were quiet on the claim front until June of 2016 when rounds of hail hammered Lincoln. They hesitated to call their agent in Geneva at first.
“We could see some damage, but we’d had several claims already and we weren’t sure if we needed to call,” Terry said.
Fortunately they did. Insurance repaired about $45,000 of damage to windows, cladding and shake roof. “Fortify has always been there for us and put us with the experts that have taken care of us,” Terry said.
Their insurance needs are different now. The couple who met through their friends’ wedding (Terry had to know who that pretty bridesmaid was) have now been married 35 years. Terry has his doctorate and has directed the Nebraska LEAD Program for 10 years. Pam works at an ob-gyn office in Lincoln, her 37th year in the medical profession.
“We’re in the pre-retirement stage,” he joked.
They are hoping they are done with insurance claims, but it’s comforting to know help is only an email or phone conversation away.
“That’s huge to us. We like to stay connected to people. With Fortify we feel less like clients and more like extended family.”
Terry and Pam, we feel the same way.