Celebrating 25 years in business is a true milestone, one that is
worthy of taking a step back and recognizing how it all came to pass.
For Ken Szczepanek (pronounced seh-PAN-eck), he knows that Florida
Insurance Planners in Longwood stuck to the fundamentals of hard work,
perseverance, and treating customers with the respect they deserve as
building blocks over the past quarter-century. Creating a down-to-earth,
dog-friendly office atmosphere didn’t hurt, either.
November 1, 1991, Florida Insurance Planners is an independent insurance
agency that helps clients minimize the risks that are part of everyday
life. The company’s motto is “stop chasing insurance… we do the work,
you sit back.”
“Our focus is on customer service,” says Ken,
founder and patriarch of the company. “Take care of the client, and the
client will take care of you.”
Ken’s simple formula has proven to
be a success for this family-owned and operated business. The employees
understand that buying insurance can be overwhelming for most people, so
they are devoted to a personal, homey way of doing business to put a
client or prospective client at ease.
Ken, who has been in the
insurance business for 45 years, prefers insurance to be explained in
the simplest of terms, a skill he still hones every other month by
teaching homeowner’s insurance classes at the Golden Rule in Sanford, a
nonprofit organization that helps low-income families become first-time
“First, I tell them that insurance is a risk-transfer
mechanism, and I see their eyes glaze over,” Ken smiles. “Then, I
explain that insurance simply transfers the risks to someone else for a
Over the years, Florida Insurance Planners has amassed a
dedicated following of clients who enjoy the family-friendly business
that includes Charity, Ken’s wife of 46 years; their daughter Colleen
Pacheco; Colleen’s two brothers-in-law, Eduardo Pacheco and Hector
Pacheco; Andrea Eshack; and, at present, three furry greeters: Lily (a
yellow Lab), Lexie (a black Lab), and the show-stealer of the group, Max
(a Yorkshire-Shih Tzu mix).
Since cost is usually top-of-mind for
most clients, Ken says his team works hard to offer competitive
pricing, but more than that, adequate coverage for what the client truly
needs. No more, no less.
“Cost is a major factor, but tantamount
to the same thing is that the coverage is what they need,” Ken explains.
“It’s a constant balance of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.”
perk of a long-standing, local business whose growth was based on trust
and quality service is that most of the firm’s business today is
referral and repeat in nature. But while Florida Insurance Planners may
have found a path to success, the company is not resting on its laurels.
Insurance Planners is now offering insurance plans to the sports and
fitness industry. The firm accesses specialty insurance carriers to
protect large and small gyms, team sports, personal trainers, and dance
and cheerleading organizations.
“This is new for us, but these
fitness centers really need liability coverage against falls, for the
nutrition they offer, to protect personal trainers, and for the
equipment being used,” says Ken.
Also new at Florida Insurance
Planners is an Artisan contractor package for skilled craftsmen such as
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, and masons. There are
also new insurance packages for restaurants offering greatly discounted
After 25 years, Ken credits
family, friends, and loyal clients for the company’s endurance. And at
age 70, he personally has no plans to retire.
“What am I going to
do?” Ken asks aloud with a laugh. His longevity does give Ken the
opportunity to pass on bits of wisdom when asked about the magic formula
for success in business. Ken’s favorite quote rolls right off his
“There is no elevator to success,” he says. “You have to take the stairs. You can rest, but you can’t stop.”