Michael Lopez of Santa Rosa’s Vantreo Insurance Brokerage has won one of this year’s North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Tell us your story and that of your organization:
I was born and raised in Knights Landing, California, a small farming town in Sacramento Valley with a population of about 900 people. In 1983, I moved to Santa Rosa to attend Santa Rosa Junior College and seek my fortune.
Sounds funny now, to seek my fortune. I really thought the goal was to be the best in business. In 1985, I began my career in insurance first in life insurance but moved into commercial property/casualty with special emphasis in workers compensation cost reduction. I joined the newly formed Vantreo Insurance Brokerage in 2007 and became a workers comp turnaround specialist.
Suddenly I wasn’t working to be the “best in business” but instead “the best for business.” Everyone should be able to put in a full day’s work and come home in the same condition they were in when they left.
By 2005, it was apparent to me that Latinos were getting killed or injured on the job at a higher rate than other employee groups. I felt a huge calling to help business owners and their middle level managers create a safe workplace and empower their Latino workforce while helping them better understand the culture and best practices. I founded the annual “Latinos in the Workplace” conference that year.
Today, we’re taking the leadership principals we’ve learned to today’s youth. I am a regular speaker at local high schools telling my personal development story of what it takes to be successful in whatever you do and whatever you want to be.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?:
In 2017, I graduated as a Certified Speaker from the John C. Maxwell International Certification program, Orlando Florida.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?:
In 2010, I was part of a group of business community members who got together to help the students at Elsie Allen High School. We created a nonprofit 501(c) foundation and have awarded over 200 scholarships to students pursuing college and career technical education.
What is your biggest challenge today?: Saying yes more than I say no!
Words that best describe you: Disciplined, driven and persistent.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?:
One of the biggest challenges is happening right now. It is in helping clients make the digital transition when it comes to insurance. While the next generation of consumers was born with technology, that is the case with much of the rest of the consuming public. And to guide others, we have to be experts ourselves. I had to immerse myself in incredible, new, technology-based services in order to not only help clients save time but to actually increase the value of their businesses at the same time.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?:
Some tech giants have stumbled in insurance, but without the ability to provide insurance advocacy and wisdom, they ultimately lose the game. Regardless, the disruption is a wake-up call for the insurance industry. Today, it’s the savvy, technology-empowered insurance people who are competing head-on with the traditional insurance brokers. In this new, fast-paced competition, it’s the ability to deliver a fast, fun, time-saving, profit-making consumer experience that wins.
Who was your most important mentor?:
Lynne L Wallace, President of Vantreo Insurance Brokers. Lynne is in the top 2 percent of insurance brokers in United States. From my beginning of my Property Casualty career I have been mentored by her, and we have successfully partnered together on large high-growth commercial accounts since 2002.
Tell us about your community involvement:
• Past President Evening Active 20-30 Club
• Past President of the Engineering Contractors Association of Northern California
• Leadership Santa Rosa graduate class XVI
• Founding member and Vice President of Elsie Allen High School Foundation
• Board Member of Bayberry, Inc.
• Board Member of the City of Santa Rosa Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission
• Press Democrat Editorial Board Community member
• Santa Rosa City Schools District Budget Advisory Committee member
• Founder of the Annual “Latinos in the Workplace” Conference
• Member of Los Cien of Sonoma County
What advice would you give to a young person today?:
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes small, smart choices, consistently over time to achieve sustainable success.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization:
Willie and Carlos Tamayo of La Tortilla Factory. They took their parents’ family business and turned it into a successful nationally recognized company while remaining great stewards of our community.
Current reading: “A Whole New MindL Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” by Daniel H. Pink
Most want to meet: Jeff Bezos, Chief Executive Officer of Amazon
Stress relievers: I like to train/workout at least 6 days a week to relieve my day-to-day stresses.
Favorite hobbies: I have been a dedicated Ironman triathlete (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and avid cyclist since 2002. I also like golfing, hunting and fishing. I enjoy spending time with my wife Kelly of 28 years and my three daughters Melissa, Annalise and Jenna in all of their academic and sporting events.