Young Agent Scholarship Winner Is Paying It Forward

By Will Jones,

Trey Wood, the recipient of this year’s Maurice Herndon Scholarship, is a third-generation insurance agent at the same agency his grandfather started in 1905: Turner, Wood & Smith in Gainesville, Georgia.

And at this year’s Big “I” Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., Wood will do his part to uphold another family legacy: public service.

“We’ve got to take this seriously,” says Wood, whose grandfather was a state senator for 40 years. “We’re telling Congress the truth so that when they come up and vote, they can remember what we said and how it’s affecting people in their day-to-day lives.”

Passing knowledge from one generation to the next and setting an example for independent insurance agents of the future is a tradition which Wood works hard to perpetuate within the Big “I.” He joined the family firm upon graduating from the University of Georgia’s Risk Management and Insurance program in May of 2008. Three years later, he completed the AAI designation and was also elected to the board of directors of the Georgia Young Agents Committee.

“When I first started, the two people that mentored me were my father, Joe Wood, Jr. and Jimbo Floyd,” says Wood, who is now partner and vice president. “I relied on them heavily to show me how to be successful in the industry and get involved in the association.”

Early involvement with the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia (IIAG) opened the door to industry events where Wood received a “tremendous” education from veteran agents. “If it wasn’t for young agents, the annual conference and being involved in the industry, I don’t know where I’d be,” he says. “I can’t say enough good things about the IIAG and how much it’s helped me propel my career.”

When Wood was selected as the InVEST Program Chair and started visiting high schools to teach insurance, he began paying back the training and education he received from his industry peers when he first started out.

“I feel like when young people get into this industry, there’s not a whole lot of training involved,” says Wood, who adds that his connection to the InVEST “gives me an opportunity to help young people and give them a fighting chance to succeed.”

There are currently two new hires at Turner, Wood & Smith, and Wood’s advice to them is simple: “Get involved. Get involved in your local community, get involved in the insurance industry. Work as hard and efficient as you can, knowing that it’s a journey. This is a career instead of just a job.”

Wood has also been co-chairman of the Will Weston IV YAC Classic golf tournament for the past three years. “I’ve really enjoyed that because the money that we raise goes back to a charity,” he says. “And, it’s a way to get everybody involved, from the carrier to the agent.”

Presented each year to one young agent who is a first-time attendee to the Big “I” Legislative Conference, the Maurice Herndon Scholarship enables the recipient to attend the conference free of charge. The name of the award honors the former head of the 1949 Big “I” Washington, D.C. office, who built the association’s government affairs and grassroots operations.

This year, Wood is looking forward to joining his fellow professionals on Capitol Hill to advocate for the issues which affect independent agents most. “I’ve always believed that whatever you’re a part of, make it better,” he says. “You might not get something in return, but at least you’re helping someone. Eventually, it’ll come back to you.”



Will Jones is IA assistant editor.