What does it mean when American Family says, your dream is out there? I think a lot about what dreams have meant to my family. My dad, Gary Miller, is a retired 35 year amfam agent from Beulah, ND. He was fortunate to work hard and achieve his dreams over his career, but things weren’t always easy for him.
My dad’s parents died when he was very young, and he was raised by his brothers and sisters. He moved around a lot. He went to college with a few dollars in his pocket, and a dream of being successful. I can’t imagine what those years were like for my dad, but I know they were hard. And I know his dreams kept him going.
And then one day, he met Matt Kraft, a district manager with American Family in Bismarck, ND. Matt hired my dad because he saw what he calls “fire in the belly.” He believed my dad had the determination and desire to succeed, and who just needed a chance. And what happened next, puts the “family” in American Family. Matt came to be part of our family.
He made a 3 hour round trip about once or twice a month to come and see my dad. They would spend all day together, training, dreaming of a future for my dad, and meeting with clients. Those evenings, my mom would make dinner for all of us.
I remember watching Grizzly Adams with Matt as a kid, and thinking that if I didn’t have a grandpa on my dad’s side, that Matt was the next best thing.
With Matt’s help and encouragement, along with many others at amfam, my dad’s career started to steadily take off. I remember the first year that my mom and dad were able to go on vacation. Matt was there too, and he told me that my dad stood on the beach and said “Man, this is like living a dream.”
I saw my dad work late into the night, and my mom would wrap his dinner in aluminum foil and put it back in the oven. Sometimes he got home before I went to bed. Sometimes he didn’t.
I knew that he was working late to provide for our family, and to get us the things we needed. I knew he was working late to take care of other people, too. When it would storm, dad would stay up all night, and plan how he would help his clients the following day. He always took care of clients. The day he retired, when he was a Hall of Fame amfam agent, he was still calling his clients “Sir” and “Mam.”
Our entire family was involved in my dad’s business. When I was five years old, I dressed up in a bunny costume, and pedaled my tricycle in the Mercer County Fair Parade in Beulah, ND. I had a sign around my neck that said, “hop on down to my daddy’s office—and he’ll give you a 24 carat deal.” I still believe in the 24 carat deal. I still believe that American Family is golden. I have seen them rebuild entire towns after a tornado strikes, and I know they come through on their promise. And I still believe that our agents are the best in the industry, and provide you with the best service.
At a meeting last October, our CEO, Jack, asked me what my dad said to me when I decided to become an amfam agent. I told him the story about my dad, and Matt Kraft, and my childhood. I told him there was never really any question what I wanted to do with my career.
Jack’s dad was also an amfam agent in Wisconsin, and he grew up just like me—watching people dream big, and work hard. You see, American Family is a company that values relationships, loyalty, and hard work. We may be a big company, but we still value each and every one of our clients, and our employees. We know who you are. We share in your dreams. Our company was built on dreams. So when we say, your dream is out there, we mean it. We believe it.