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Women in Business: Mt. Hood Insurance Going On 25 and Going Strong

By Ty Walker

Women in Business:  Mt. Hood Insurance Going On 25 and Going Strong

Joan Kiefer’s mother was one of the first women to own her own independent insurance agency back in the 1970s. Joan followed her mother’s footsteps into the insurance industry, working for the family business in Bellingham, Washington.

When her mother retired, Kiefer decided she needed a change of scenery and moved to Oregon. She got a job working for someone else at another agency, but found out that the company didn’t have the same ethics and morals of her family agency.

She concluded that she would either have to get out of the insurance business or open her own office and run it with the values she’d learned from her mother. So on Sept. 27, 1999, Kiefer opened her own Mt. Hood Insurance Agency in Sandy, where she is celebrating its 25th year of selling customers property and casualty insurance.

“I sold everything I had and opened the agency in Sandy, with enough money to carry me for one year and knowing only two people in all of Clackamas County,” Kiefer said. “Within the first 10 months, the office started paying for itself. Whenever a local came to the office, I’d ask them for a referral.”

Kiefer said she treats everybody the way she would like to be treated, with respect and kindness. She finds joy in being able to help people.

“I really think I’ve stayed in business all these years because my priority is to be kind to people and not judge them, and to treat all people with kindness no matter what side of the tracks they come from,” Kiefer said.
When she opened Mt. Hood Insurance, very few women owned their own business in the insurance industry. Kiefer called it “the old boys club.” Over the years, she said, “It has been a true delight watching more women taking the reins and running with it.”

Kiefer’s kindness extends to animals as well as people. She has a real compassion for animals and runs a small rescue operation on the side, where she cares for three horses, one goat, one pig and a cat.

Two of the horses suffered abuse at the hands of humans and a third was homeless before Kiefer took them under her care. One abused horse lost an eye and the other is impaired by eye damage.

“It has been a delight watching the horses regain some trust in humans,” Kiefer said.

One of the horses, named Capt. Morgan developed the amusing ability to unlock doors and gates.
“He is a professional locksmith,” Kiefer said. “Everything must be double-locked. He was in the habit of letting himself out and letting his playmates out.

In her spare time, Kiefer also enjoys being active outdoors, gardening, hiking, camping and off-road riding.
She offered some advice to women starting their own business.

“Being your own boss is not a 9-to-5 or Monday-through-Friday job. If you have the drive to dig in and push on, it is very rewarding.

“If you post hours, you have to be true to the hours you post. It is imperative that you are consistent so you can build the trust of prospective clients.

“Treating people well and doing what you say you will do is the best advertisement anyone could ever have.”

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