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Faces in the Crowd: Michael Leary

February 17, 2020

Going through the list of the members of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, I realized that I had not contacted the Michael Leary Agency – Farm Bureau Insurance, so I sent him a note on Facebook, setting up an interview at his office, which is located at 1101 N. McEwan, just 2 minutes from downtown Clare. Upon arrival at the appointed time, I was given a cup of coffee, a warm greeting, and a comfortable chair in his office.

Michael pointed out that he has owned and operated the insurance agency for about 18 months. Previously, it was owned by Jay Kleinhardt who has retired. At the time, Michael was already working there as a staff member and was presented with the opportunity to buy the business. He says that Jay Kleinhardt, his mentor, shared his extensive knowledge and provided an abundance of guidance, and Michael considers him not only his former boss and good friend but also “the best teacher of his craft, second to none.”

After high school and college, he was hired by Chemical Bank in Midland as an Appraisal Clerk in the Personal Loans and Underwriting Services – a job he held for the next 3 years.

In 2013, Michael married Kalysta Cleary, a member of the family that owns Snowsnake Ski & Golf in Harrison. She is a 2nd grade teacher at Clare Primary School. Michael reports that they met at Snowsnake. They have a daughter, Ila, who is 2-and-a-half year old. Michael says the only business she’s in right now is “monkey business.”

In 2014, Jay and Karen Kleinhardt offered him a position, and he started working with the Kleinhardt Agency. Five years later, he owns the agency. With him as your agent, you can make just one call and he’ll handle all your insurance needs. He can develop a program that fits you and your family. His services include auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance, farm insurance, dairy revenue protection insurance, business insurance, annuities, IRAs, retirement planning, lake estate insurance, health insurance, and more.

Farm Bureau Insurance is one of Michigan’s most trusted insurers, having served Michigan since 1949. Their life insurance company, Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company of Michigan, has been named one of the top 50 safest and best life insurers in America, based on strength, stability, and outstanding financial performance by the Ward Group.

Michael says that, as your agent, he can help you through the toughest times of your life. If you have a house fire or a car accident, he’ll be there for you. When you need life insurance or a guaranteed retirement plan, he’ll be there for you, too. He lives and works right in the local area, so his service is always personal and always local. For insurance made easy and claims made easy, just call him at (989) 386-3262.

I asked Michael if he had any skills or talents that most people don’t know about. He responded that he loved boating and being on the water. In fact, if he could be anywhere else but here, right this minute, he would be boating under the Mackinac Bridge. He said he’d done that some time ago, and he thought it was an absolutely awesome sight.

When he was about 10 years old, he thought he would become a plumber, like his Dad. His Dad currently owns and operates the Leary Plumbing business in Harrison, and Michael thought he’d be carrying on the business one day.

Michael says he wants people to remember him as a person who cares about others.

I asked him for 3 words that he would use to describe himself. He responded, “Fun, Detail-oriented, and Loyal.”

I then asked him how he thought his colleagues would describe him. He answered, “Low pressure.” This corresponded to his idea of keeping the best interest of others in mind, because he had no intention of causing unnecessary stress.

There is something he would like to do before he dies. He wants to complete the restoration of an old square-body Chevy truck.

I asked him if he had any particular goals he would like to accomplish within the next year. He answered, “To continue his business growing.”

Michael admitted that he didn’t have much time for leisure reading these days, but he did have a favorite book: The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway.

When he’s not working, Michael is happiest with any activity that involves water – boating, fishing, etc. He also loved to simply watch deer with his wife and daughter.

With his friends in his spare time Michael loves to hunt and fish. He also loves archery target practice.

I asked him for a motto that he lives by: “Got a challenge? Handle it.” In a later part of the interview, he also stated that “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Of course, Michael is a member of the Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan. He is also a member of the 20 Lakes Antique Club, in which he owns and displays a 1952 Ford 8N tractor. He is also a member of the Clare Kiwanis. He also indicated that he’s won a few internal company awards.

I asked him for the best compliment he ever received. First of all, he mentioned that he was “always there for his clients.” When he helps them through a claim or insurance purchase, they give him a big “thank you.” When he hears that, he knows that “I have done my job.”

I asked him, “What was your most embarrassing moment?” Laughing, he replied, “Which day?” After thinking about it for a moment, he proceeded to explain an event that occurred when he was in high school. In those days, he drove a standard cab 1992 Ford F150 truck. Without his knowledge, someone had tied a zip-tie to the drive shaft of the truck, so that when the wheels turned, the zip-tie scraped against the pavement, making a disturbing noise that sounded like engine trouble. Every time he heard the noise, he’d stop, look under the truck, but see nothing. Of course, this prank created endless amusement for the perpetrators.

Michael recalled that, many years ago, he went ice fishing with his brother on Arnold Lake. Unfortunately, the launch was steep and snow was extremely heavy. They got stuck in the snow, which required seemingly endless hours to dig themselves out. But that didn’t deter them from turning it into quality time spent between two brothers.

Michael says that he loves the community dearly, and he is thankful for all the support he has been given.

michael leary’s address and phone number were provided earlier. you can view his website at farmbureauinsurance.com and you can contact him by e-mail at mleary@fbinsmi.com.

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