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.
Vice president, Commercial Insurance Division
Vantreo Insurance Brokerage
100 Stony Point Road, Suite 160, Santa Rosa 95401
Residence: Santa Rosa
Professional background: Commercial insurance and corporate leadership trainer