Inside Business: Weed Ross Agency
Celebrating 60 Years of Service in Ellicottville
Story by John Thomas
When you talk to Sean Cornelius about insurance, you get a feeling this guy really likes what he is doing. The Erie, PA native attended St. Bonaventure University. An avid snowboarder, he would come over to Ellicottville to ride in the winter. That was how he decided he wanted to live in our village. He and his family now reside Ellicottville.
Mr. Cornelius has a family tradition of working in the insurance industry and extensive insurance background; his father is a State Farm insurance agent and his grandfather ran an insurance claims office. Upon graduation, Cornelius went to work for Crawford and Company, which is one of largest independent insurance adjusting firms in the country. He found himself in Florida, in 2004, during one of the costliest hurricane seasons on record. He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, pretty much ground zero for most of the storms that battered the state that year. State Farm hired him for a Catastrophe Team position, handling claims arising from catastrophic events: floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and large fires. Sean said, “The eighteen-hour days, when you have a family, are not the greatest.” Opting for a position that took him off the road, he moved to Miami in 2008 and worked for Travelers. Sean moved back up north in 2010 and worked for several insurance agencies before joining the Weed Ross Agency in 2014.
The Weed Ross Agency has been an Ellicottville business staple since it was first opened in 1957 by John Weed. Sean is excited to announce that the agency will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. There have been various mergers with other agencies over the years, but the name Weed has always been prominent in the title. Gary Ross took over as agency president in the 1980s and ran the agency until his retirement in March of 2016. At that time, Mr. Cornelius took over the business. About a year ago, Sean moved the agency to its new location, 4 Monroe Street, just down the block. The agency can sell policies from various insurers. They can supply insurance to cover auto, home, boat, business, workers comp, and hard to place exposures.
I asked him to reflect on how the business has changed over the years. He said in the old days, agents had to calculate premiums by hand or use rate sheets and a wheel-like calculator. Now, premiums are calculated online in real time. He has implemented software for accepting e-signatures and has invested in a brand-new website. In the past, they had to snail mail forms back and forth between the client and office. With the software, a client can sign electronically, which Mr. Cornelius said is great, as the agency has many clients from out of state and from Canada. When asked what sets Weed Ross Agency apart from other agencies, Sean advised that he has a very experienced staff; they provide a high level of service to the customer. Roseann Hintz, an Ellicottville native and the office manager, has been working for the agency since 1974 and has a vast knowledge of insurance. Kelly Wakelee has worked for the agency for twenty years, after working for other agencies and companies. Lindsay Hintz has been with the agency for over ten years and recently obtained her agents license. Brooke Szpaicher is the latest addition to the team, joining this year. Mr. Cornelius emphasizes personal service and points out, everybody holding a policy gets his personal cell phone number. “I’m looking forward to seeing the business grow and evolve, as the village will evolve over the next decade.”
Sounds like a guy who loves what he does!