Tom Wright

With just over a week left before his retirement, Tom Wright waves goodbye outside of his State Farm office on the corner of Main Street and Henderson Avenue on June 18, 2019.

Tom Wright set to retire at end of June

For the past 40 years, Tom Wright, of Tom Wright Insurance Agency Inc. and State Farm, has served the community of Porterville by providing insurance and financial needs fit for every one of his clients. After a successful career building and catering to his community, Wright has made the decision to retire and has found himself in an emotional state of mind about leaving the insurance business he has worked hard for and thrived in.

“I have mixed emotions about it,” said Wright about his retirement. “I love my work. This is my life's work.”

Before beginning his career in the insurance industry, Wright was a forest ranger for the U.S. Forest Service for nine years.

“I loved that too,” said Wright. “But I always wanted to own my own business.”

To achieve his dream of being a business owner, Wright reached out to his own insurance agent at the time, Dave Lemming, to see how he could begin a career in the insurance business. With advice and support from Lemming, Wright left the Forest Service in 1979 to set out on the adventure of becoming a business owner.

Wright purchased his first insurance office building in 1978, which was built by Porterville High School students in 1925, at 540 West Olive Avenue. As the years passed, his business kept growing and he knew it was time for a new location. He purchased an old gas station on the corner of Main Street and Henderson Avenue, and set out to redesign the building to his own vision. Once the building remodel was finished, Wright was pleased with his permanent business residence, and stayed at this location for the remainder of his career.

After 40 years in the business, Wright has grown to know and love the community around him and is emotionally torn on leaving his clients, all of whom he considers his friends, in the hands of the next agent who will take his place.

“I'm going to miss the people, my clients,” said Wright. “I have built relationships with them. They are not just clients. They are friends. The satisfaction of knowing that I have been able to help them in their time of need, we step in when they need us most, and that is rewarding for me. I'm in this business because it is rewarding to help people, and I like to help people.”

Wright explained that the community had relied on him to service them, and feels that he will be missing those opportunities to help people after he leaves. He stated that he has helped generations of families with insurance, and is going to miss seeing those generations continue to grow.

Wright has given both his time and money to help the community prosper. He has been an ambassador with the Porterville Chamber of Commerce, sat as president on the foundation board for Sierra View Medical Center, and has sat on the board for the senior daycare facility, to name a few of his contributions.

One of Wright's important accomplishments is the fact that he has handed out countless life insurance checks to help families through the tough time of losing a loved one.

“I feel good that I have helped families that would have otherwise been destitute,” said Wright. “I've helped them by telling them about life insurance, because if I don't nobody else is, so that's important.”

Although he is facing conflicting emotions about his retirement, Wright has some things he is looking forward to being able to do with all of the free time that will be coming his way.

“I'm looking forward to having more time with my family,” said Wright.

The grandparent of five grandchildren, who he calls his pride and joy, has plans to go camping, travel and go to sporting events to create new memories with his family. He intends to spend time golfing, fishing, and riding his collection of motorcycles. He is also ready to get back in to the gym and start exercising.

“I want to spend more time with my wife of 45 years, Judy,” said Wright. “I want to retire while I'm still in good health.”

Wright says that he is going to need to get in the groove of having free time, because he has looked forward to coming into his office every day for the past 40 years.

“I have a lot of mixed emotions about doing this. I'm not retiring because I don't like it,” said Wright. “I love it. I've always been in the top one percent of the State Farm company.”

Wright's office walls are covered in an array of distinguished plaques showcasing his career accomplishments and milestones. He has received so many awards during his time with State Farm that he has run out of room on his walls to show them off.

Wright will be in his office until June 28, but has many thanks to give to the people who have helped his career along the way.

“I want to thank my faithful office team,” said Wright. “Especially my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law, Helen Kennedy, her and I started together. I had asked her to answer the phone for me for a little while, and she was with me for 20 years. I always called her the wind beneath my wings. Helen Kennedy really helped me when I first started.”

Wright stated that he has received many blessings from God during his time in business, and is grateful for everything that has come his way over the years.

Wright offered a final piece of advice for those who are trying to figure out what would be best for themselves, especially to the younger people who are looking to start their careers.

“Find something that you enjoy doing,” said Wright. “Don't take on a job that you don't like. Find something that you enjoy doing, and do that. This hasn't been work for me, it has been a pleasure.”

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