Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your agency and the responsibilities of your position.
John Drakulich: I am the largest Farmers agent in this area and one of the largest agents in the company. In the day-to-day, I review coverages and meet with new clients.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Drakulich: My dad was a State Farm agent. He also was a state senator. I didn’t finish college because I had some financial challenges and went to work. But I ended up with the most fabulous job you could ever imagine — I was a waiter in the showroom at the MGM. You made $120 to $180 a night back in 1978; I couldn’t ask for more. But I saw people use cocaine, drugs and those types of things and I left the showroom. My dad came from a small mining town outside of Ely who knew a guy who was a district manager for an insurance agency. My dad said I would make a good agent, and that’s how I started.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Drakulich: I tell new agents that it’s a five-year commitment, and if you don’t commit to it you will pay for it later on and probably not make it through the business. You have to have a clear vision and an understanding of what the dedication is and have to be willing to go beyond an 8-to-5 job.
NNBW: What’s the main thing you have learned over the course of your career that has helped you be successful?
Drakulich: It’s about determination and persistence in this business.
NNBW: What do you like most about your career choice?
Drakulich: I don’t define myself by my agency. If anybody said to me, “What was the one award you got that meant more to you than anything else?” it would be when the Association of Fundraising Professionals selected me in 2008 for my involvement in the Ronald McDonald House. But I have paid 44 death claims, and I have seen what happens to people when they have insurance. I have paid five total losses — when we had the Caughlin Fire a family lost their house, and that was paid in 14 days. It would have been paid in 10 had not Thanksgiving been included. When you see you make people whole and provide a service to them, you realize insurance is something you people can’t live without.
NNBW: What new trends do you see in the worker’s comp insurance industry?
Drakulich: There’s a challenge of people understanding there’s cost and value. You have to have a strong company, and in accordance with it, it has to be participatory with the insured and the claimant to make sure that claimant is taken care of from the very beginning but also so the employer is well informed so there is no lingering challenge. We have a responsibility to make sure the claimant is whole, but also that the insured is whole so they don’t expend any more money on that claim that will result in additional cost.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Drakulich: I worked at the Pony Express Lodge sweeping the parking lot and clean up. I was 11 and made 75 cents an hour.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Drakulich: I love to ski, play golf, mountain bike and road bike.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change, either personally or professionally?
Drakulich: I can’t really say I would change anything — it’s been a great journey.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Drakulich: I always wondered what the vision would be later on. I was always a goal-setter, and being self-employed and being able to control my own destiny were always it.
NNBW: You’ve had a long career — are you considering retiring at all?
Drakulich: I still enjoy what I do and find a real sense of accomplishment being able to help people manage their assets. I plan on still doing it for a period of time.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Drakulich: A Seabourn Cruise. The quality and level of service is refined; you feel like you are at the Four Seasons. We went from Athens to Barcelona, including Turkey, Crete and Malta.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Drakulich: I have always felt that Reno is a fabulous place to live because of the environment. We have the four seasons and proximity to golf, skiing, lakes and all that. If I want culture I can seek it out in other metropolitan areas, and there are many things culturally we have here. It is a well-rounded place with easy access and I have never regretted staying here. When my parents passed, I was so fortunate that I lived in the same area they did.
To suggest a candidate for NNBW’s weekly question and answer column, look at our editorial calendar (http://apps.nnbw.com/utils/pdfs/9683736R.pdf) and contact reporter Rob Sabo at email@example.com or call 775-850-2146.