PROSPERITY — Carter Lake grew up in Newberry County, he attended Mid-Carolina High School and Newberry College. After graduating he left Newberry, but has now returned home.
“Fortunately, I grew up here in Prosperity, I went to Mid-Carolina High School, Newberry College, I left in 2009 when I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in physical education and a minor in history. I was a teacher, a coach (head of three sports) and athletic director at Gilbert Middle School,” Lake said. “I went on to get my Masters in administration through USC, and for two years after that I was at Chapin Elementary as an assistant principal.”
Lake has now returned to Prosperity with State Farm. He is coming into Newberry County after Dave Mann, based in Newberry, retired. Half of Mann’s clients will be transferred to Lake, while the other half will go to the agent taking over for Mann in Newberry.
“We started making those phone calls, we are calling letting them know we are still State Farm and we are not doing anything out of the norm. We are just moving to the Prosperity area so we can serve the Newberry area as a whole,” Lake said. “We may do things a little bit different than Dave, but we will still take care of you. We are here to make the transition as easy as possible.”
Lake has already put together a team, one of which being Fran Merchant, who has been with State Farm for about 30 years. Lake said he is excited to have her, and that she goes to church in Prosperity and has been in Newberry County for a long time.
“We hired Desiree Buddy, she’s a local, she went to Mid-Carolina High School. We are super excited to get her. A young man coming form Newberry College, he actually wrestled at Newberry College, Nick Pare. One more, Chris Wessinger, her husband is actually the athletic director at Chapin High School,” Lake said. “We’ve got a full house and we are beyond blessed to have these guys come in for us and start working day one.”
The new office will be located at 101 Grace Street, Prosperity.
Lake says he married into a State Farm family, his wife’s (Jenna) grandfather was an agent back in the 1970s and 1980s. Her uncle is an adjuster for State Farm and her aunt and uncle are also State Farm agents.
“I correlate insurance a lot with education, because you are educating people on what coverage they need and what’s beneficial for them. I guess that was the draw for me, I just fell in love with it,” he said.
Once he joined the “family business” he began working with Ryan Grubbs in Lexington. He was there for about 20 months, then he had the opportunity to open up his own agency in Prosperity.
“You have to go through a process, there are tests you have to pass. During that time when you are working with an agent, there are numbers you have to meet. You need to be able to articulate insurance to people, have conversations with them,” Lake said. “Then you go through the interview process, have to have a business plan put in place for the area you are looking to take over.”
During his interview process, Lake focused on the growth coming from the Little Mountain and Chapin area, he said why not be at ground zero when all of this growth his happening.
Once you get through the interview process, and are selected, you must go through a 17 week training process in Atlanta. Lake said that you go down for a five day period, come back for two or three weeks, and then go back for another five day period. Lake’s 17 week training period ended the week before his State Farm agency opened, which was this week.
“That was unique, a great learning experience,” Lake said
Now that he is officially opened, Lake said he is happy to be back in the community that was so good to him growing up and being able to give back.
“In Little Mountain I was a part of Troop 61, Eagle Scout, we’d go to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Little Mountain, been going there all my life,” Lake said.
Now that the new agency is open for business, Lake said they can help customers with life, home, auto, as well as health insurance. Something he said many people do not know is that State Farm can help finance vehicles as well.
“Really cool thing about State Farm is that they are really diving into the smaller businesses. We are in that corridor from Greenville to Columbia, and there are a lot of smaller businesses. One of our focuses is going to be working with small business owners in Newberry County and educating them on the coverage they have in place, do they have enough liability, something happens to their business, how can we help them with that,” Lake said.
Something Lake believes will benefit his new agency is the fact that most of his agents are from this area.
“People say all the time, a State Farm agent on every corner it seems like, but there is also an Edward Jones on every corner, also restaurants on every corner too, but each is a little bit different. I think for the majority of us who work here in this office, we are from this area. I think we can relate back to people a lot better, and promote State Farm as a brand as a whole,” he said. “Working with State Farm, the biggest thing they want you to do is promote the community you are in, live the community you are in, to the best of your ability, and love on them.”
Lake is currently working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Prosperity Small Business Association. He says they are going to support the recreation teams in Prosperity, and eventually getting back to the schools for different events. He said they will also be participating in Prosperity’s Hoppin’ and the Shopper’s Walk, as well as parades.
Now that he has come back home, many around the county can expect to see Lake out and about, along with his wife Jenna and daughter Taylor.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.