Profiles in Black entrepreneurship: Making the leap from insurance adjuster to business owner
Photos by Kenney Ellison
After 16 years handling storm claims at one of the nation’s largest insurance carriers, Reggie Hines was ready to tackle going into business for himself.
As an adjuster, when there was a hurricane or a big storm, Hines would travel to the location and be away from his family for weeks or months at a time. Desiring more time with his family, and with years of expertise in roofing and gutter repairs as an adjuster, Hines decided to start his own business as a roofing contractor.
One of the things Hines loved about working as an adjuster was being able to help people following catastrophic weather events. He jumped at the opportunity to merge his desire to help people with doing roofing work for a job in Colorado after a major hail storm, and then decided to solidify 5515, LLC Roofing and Construction, his own roofing, gutter repair and painting business.
“God just said ‘Go,’ and I went,” said Hines. “I hit the road and I didn’t look back.”
This November, Hines will be celebrating the business’ five-year anniversary. According to Hines, 5515, LLC, is a small, Christian, family-owned business with strong ties to the Kansas City area. The business is based in Lenexa and they serve the entire KC metropolitan area, including as far out as Topeka, Kansas.
A lot of his business leads are through insurance agents who receive calls from their clients about things like roof or gutter damage. Hines’ business goes out before a claim is made to verify if there’s damage. This allows him to be one of the first in the door for any roofing or gutter repair needs. While he primarily deals with storm damage, Hines also generates business through referrals and connections.
“Every customer is treated like a friend,” said Hines. “We establish a good relationship because I have to walk them through what can be a confusing process. Some people find insurance to be a scary thing.”
Those clients go on to refer friends and neighbors, or neighbors will catch him outside with his drone checking a nearby roof. Many people don’t know if they have damage or need their roof replaced and that’s where Hines comes in. Via drone technology, or climbing the roof the old-fashioned way, Hines evaluates any damage using his expertise in insurance claims. He takes a no-pressure approach to selling and tells his clients what he thinks and what issues he has identified, before leaving the decision up to them.
Despite being a contracting company handling outdoor work, Hines said he still felt the impacts of the pandemic as business slowed. As he approaches the five-year anniversary for his business, Hines is most looking forward to continued growth and expansion. His primary goal is to grow his network of subcontractors to be able to best support his clients’ needs.
Hines joined the Urban League of Greater Kansas City and H&R Block program thanks to his wife’s connection with ULKC President and CEO Gwendolyn Grant. The program is helping Black- and minority-owned businesses gain access to capital through increased financial readiness. Hines has already gone through one session with a Block Advisors coach to review his taxes to see if there’s anything he can do differently to improve his financials. And, he’s looking forward to the educational opportunities with additional coaching.
“The main thing for me is the connectivity. I think this program is something very special,” said Hines. “When you’re in business, it’s all about your network. Grow your network, do good business, do what you say, and you’re going to be just fine.”
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