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On the Job: A Cool Transition for Ronn Hall

Ronn Hall, who never had thought about working in insurance, is glad he finally steered his career in that direction.

has been in for more than 24 years.

Over that span, he’s , made a lot of friends and, he hopes, helped many people when they’ve needed it most.

It’s a job Hall, 55, is so comfortable with he’d like to do it another 20 years.

But Hall is the accidental agent, an insurance broker at first spurred more by the desire for cool air than cool commissions.

After working at Thrifty for 13 years and driving a Frito-Lay truck in El Cajon for about two, Hall was ready to listen to a friend who’d been trying to get him into the insurance business for years.

“I was looking for a career change because a Frito truck was hot, 110 degrees in the summer in downtown El Cajon,” Hall says, laughing. “And so he goes, ‘Come to Allstate. It’s easy. Give it a try.’ And I did.”

Now working out of his office in Santee’s shopping center – - Hall still never takes the air conditioning for granted. But he’s learned there’s a lot more to selling insurance than just coming indoors.

The lifelong resident, who moved his office to Santee from Rancho San Diego four years ago, has been with Allstate his entire career and built a strong base of clients through almost a quarter century in the same area.

Most of his work involves home and auto insurance, but he sells life insurance and condo association policies, too. Though he’s associated with Allstate, he also is a broker for business insurance through Allstate-approved companies such as Travelers and .

Hall, who’s lived in Santee the past 10 years, believes he can make a difference in people’s lives by selling them the insurance they need.

Yes, it’s the way he makes his money, but he says it’s also the way he saves money and stress for others.

“Working with people, helping them through their problems,” Hall says, when asked what he likes about the job. “When talking coverages and things like that, you’re talking about people’s lives. A lot of times, when they call the 1-800 number– I call it the 1-800-who cares? number– you just get people that are trying to sell them a policy and not asking them the important questions.”

Whether it’s life, home or auto insurance, Hall says he preaches that clients make certain they’re not under-insured, because he’s seen what happens when people lose their homes or a pillar of a family dies without life insurance.

During the past few years, when many households have suffered cuts in income, some have let insurance policies lapse, or decided to do without. He understands, but counsels the importance of such policies when catastrophes occur.

He recalls a conversation with a client recently who wanted to insure his house for $500,000, though it is worth as much as $700,000.

“We basically told him we can’t compromise,” says Hall. “When a claim comes in, they’ll have amnesia at that point. I hate to put it that way, but you have to [do the right thing].”

A name in the news

If Ronn Hall’s name sounds familiar, there’s a reason.

Hall not only has been a longtime businessman, but he’s the president of the and of the this past November.

Of his first experience in running for political office– he by 101 votes to – he says it was an interesting experience, but is happy he lost.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” he says. “Between this job, the chamber and being on the water board, I’d probably be dead.”

He doesn’t rule out possibly running again, though, and says the experience of going door-to-door to discuss the water district’s issues with residents was rewarding. He also enjoyed the jousting with Pommering, recalling a time late in the campaign when Pommering sprinted to occupy a prime Santee corner just ahead of Hall – who was headed for it with his own - when Hall stopped to talk with someone.

“We were talking the whole time, back and forth,” recalls Hall, smiling. “We’re actually good friends now.”

Hall’s only previous campaign experience had been in running for a spot on San Diego’s Republican Central Committee, for which he was successful. It was some of his friends on the committee who suggested he run for the water district seat.

As president of the Santee Chamber of Commerce, Hall has had a busy year, spending on average 10 to 20 hours per week on the duty. Because , the chamber’s longtime executive director, decided to retire, 2011 became a crucial year for Hall and the chamber, as it sought to select Savage’s replacement.

In the transition year, Hall says, it was important for him to devote extra time and attention to the chamber and help ensure consistency.

Working his whole life

Work has been a focal point of Hall’s life since he started a paper route when he was 9. He’s also done some work in electronics and teamed up with his brother, a developer.

“I did the on up,” he says. “I’ve been working all my life.”

When he first got into the insurance business, Hall worked out of an office at the Sears store in El Cajon, doing 60- and 70-hour weeks. He’d volunteer for extra shifts at night and on the weekends, just to build his business.

Through the years, that’s paid off. Not only was he named Retail Agent of the Year for the San Diego region in 1988, but he’s continued to build on all those early policies he sold and people he met.

And meeting people is right up his alley.

Whether it’s running for office, working on the chamber or running his business, Hall, who calls himself a people person, is constantly networking.

“Being outgoing helps,” he says. “I don’t take life too seriously. I don’t stress out over small things. I wait for big things to come up to stress out over those.”

Away from work, Hall spends time with his wife, Virginia – a local real estate agent. They’ve been married eight years and have six children from previous marriages, and two grandchildren. This year, the Halls have been able to do some traveling – Hawaii and San Francisco, with another trip planned to see family in West Virginia.

With everything Hall has going this year, there’s been little time for anything else.

Halls says one of the great things about the insurance business, though, is the fact he can make his own schedule and work as much, or as little, as he wants.

He’s constantly on call, but with the advent of cell phones and laptops, being on call can mean answering his cell while in Hawaii, or while at a community meeting.

“It’s a very mobile world now,” he says.

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