To celebrate the more than 40 years Mike Atkinson has spent as a State Farm insurance agent in Marble Falls, the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce is holding a ribbon cutting from 3-5 p.m. Thursday, July 1, at his office, 109 Main St. The celebration includes snacks, drinks, and prizes to honor his four decades as an agent. A former coach and teacher, Atkinson continues to serve the Marble Falls community.
Atkinson first hung out his insurance shingle in 1981, building a business that emphasizes the personal connection with clients — the cornerstone of his longevity. Stepping into his office feels more like a walking into a friend’s home than a business.
“I think that personal contact is important, and the open office we have where people can just come in, those are things that help people feel comfortable here,” Atkinson said. “State Farm is not just an 800 number; you get personal attention.”
He didn’t start out as an insurance agent. After completing a four-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corp, Atkinson and his wife, Michaelyn, returned to the Texas Hill Country, where she grew up. With his degree in coaching and teaching, he landed a job in the Bandera school district, hired by then-Superintendent Charles Hundley.
In 1976, Hundley moved to the Marble Falls Independent School District. Atkinson followed, teaching and coaching at the high school while Michaelyn taught kindergarten. He coached sub-varsity football and became the head track coach.
“You coach and teach because you love the kids, but you realize, at some point, you have to provide for your family,” Atkinson said.
His options by the late 1970s were limited. One choice was to pursue a head high school football position, which would have likely meant pulling up roots and heading to West Texas to work his way up the coaching ladder somewhere else.
The other option was a career change. During a conversation with Hundley about seeking a coaching job elsewhere, Atkinson learned that State Farm was looking to establish an agent in Marble Falls. Atkinson also sought direction from his pastor, the late Brother Max Copeland of First Baptist Church of Marble Falls.
After much thought and deliberation, Atkinson switched from teaching and coaching to the insurance industry. He had to build his agency from the ground up. With no clients, he began going door to door across the Highland Lakes.
“I walked Granite Shoals, Marble Falls handing out business cards. I walked Kingsland,” he recalled. “I probably wore out several pairs of shoes.”
The work paid off as people began bringing their insurance business to him. Atkinson still has his first notebook in which he wrote down those early pending policies. Probably even more remarkable is that now, four decades later, 37 families he insured in those early days still have policies with his agency. Some of those 37 might be children of the original policy holders, but the relationship continues.
Along with clients, Atkinson has added staff over the years. Many of them have stayed with him for years, even decades.
“I’ve been very blessed with having a continuity of staff,” he added.
Atkinson doesn’t see his career as selling policies but as serving people and helping them take care of their needs. He offers a number of coverages: home, life, car, and more. But it always comes down to working with people to find what’s best for them and their families.
“It’s very fulfilling, being able to help people,” he added.
Along with his career, Atkinson remained an active member of the community, serving on several organizations, including the chamber of commerce and the Marble Falls Rotary Club. Currently, he’s a board member with the Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes. Atkinson continues to teach Sunday school at First Baptist and has organized the church’s flag football games for almost 40 years. At the age of 73, he’s an avid tennis player.
He and Michaelyn have raised three, now adult, children: Kari Atkinson, Jennifer (Atkinson) Wyble, and Ryan Atkinson. Kari has worked with her dad for “20 to 30 years.”
After 40 years in the business, Atkinson plans to work for at least five more. In reflecting on his life, he sees God’s hand at work.
“God has always opened doors and closed doors in my life,” he said. “But he’s opened more doors than he’s closed.”