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Expecting the Unexpected … all in a day’s work: Our Neighbor Meredith Glenn McGrady

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

“Am I covered for stupidity?”

“You know when they call you up and ask that, it’s going to be an interesting conversation,” recounted Meredith Glenn McGrady. “Things happen in life and we get to figure out if it’s covered or not.”

Dealing with life’s unwelcome surprises is all part of a day’s work for Meredith Glenn McGrady because she holds the position of president of the Glenn Insurance Agency. Meredith works with Nick Glenn, the former president of Glenn Insurance and, not coincidentally, her father.

Insurance seems to run in the blood of the Glenn family. Meredith is a third generation insurance agent. Her grandfather, James R. (Dick) Glenn II founded the Glenn Insurance Agency way back in 1952, making it the second oldest family owned business in the Town of Pulaski and maybe the whole county.

The client who asked Meredith about ‘being covered for stupidity,’ had set up an above ground pool on the deck of the family’s home. This because the yard just didn’t seem flat enough. So they placed the pool on their deck, which collapsed after the pool was filled with water and this, in turn, flooded their basement.

Stuff happens. That’s why we buy insurance.

“Lightning may cause a power surge in your house that totally fries anything without a surge protector,” said Meredith. “We’ve had a couple of total loss house fires since I’ve been in the business. Those are difficult and stressful for everyone involved and I just try to help them through the process. Luckily those don’t happen often.”

Meredith McGrady grew up in Pulaski in the same house her mother, Mary Beth Glenn, still lives today. She graduated from PCHS in 2002 but was never crazy about school.

“I hated school,” she declared. “I just wanted to work. I’ve been working here since I was a kid. They had me stuffing envelopes at Christmas time, doing mailings and things. Grandmother would have me down here cleaning.”

By her senior year in high school, Meredith was working part time for the Glenn Insurance Agency. She was also working as night manager for the Subway restaurant in Dublin and kept a weekly babysitting gig on the side.

“So then I decided to take a few business classes at New River Community College, but didn’t do much with that because I figured I’d learn more just being here being here and seeing the day-to-day operations,” she said.

“My sister Ginger got a full ride to college because she was very smart and loved, loved school,” Meredith continued. “Since I didn’t use up my college funds because I just paid for my classes at New River, we took our college funds supplied by our grandparents and we bought our first commercial property after I graduated from high school.”

The company was, and is, Gem City Management. The sisters bought and then sold a building across from the White and Glenn Building on Main Street. They took those proceeds and bought the White and Glenn Building from their grandmother and great uncle. The White and Glenn Building was built by Meredith’s great grandfather James R. Glenn and her great grandmother Sophia White in 1906 and today serves as the home of Glenn Insurance Agency.

At age 20, Meredith married her high school sweetheart, Wally McGrady. About that same time her career trajectory came into clearer focus.

“At the time there was one other employee at Glenn Insurance and when she left, dad looked at me and said, ‘It’s sink or swim,’” recounted Meredith. “So that’s when I had to get my insurance license and was put in full time.”

Two years later, Wally and Meredith McGrady bought his grandmother’s house in Draper. She lives there still.

“It’s nice to have the Merc there with everything going on with it,” said Meredith. “In the Spring you can hear the birds chirping, Terry Joe’s voice down at the bottom of the hill and you can hear music playing down at the Mercantile. It’s kind of peaceful. It’s nice because it’s only 10 minutes from work. That lets me go home every day to let my dog Montana out for a while.”

The Glenn Insurance Agency is independent.

“Independent just means that we can represent any number of companies, as long as the companies are willing to be in our agency,” Meredith explained. “If somebody comes to me for a quote on their home and auto, I can quote it with a lot of different carriers versus just having one company to go to. Or if I have a current client and their rate just increased a lot, they may call up and say, ‘Why did my rate just go up?’ Then at least I have other companies that I can look to put them with.”

In recent years, companies like Elephant and the General, which offer “direct lines” of insurance, have become prevalent. These direct plans cut out the insurance agent.

“Luckily, a lot of clients realize the value of having an agent,” said Meredith. “We’re here to assist when something goes wrong, so that the client doesn’t have to deal with the people on the phone. They have us to handle that for them..”

Being an independent insurance agent does have its challenges.

“It’s kind of like fitting an odd puzzle piece into a puzzle,” Meredith related. “You’re constantly trying to figure out how to get something insured properly. Those are some of the struggles. We’re really close with a lot of our underwriters, so that makes it easier when somebody calls you up with something totally that is out of the ordinary. It’s nice to have dad and we can brainstorm. ”

Since I was talking with an insurance agent, and since I have a couple of teenagers, I asked if teenage boys were still the highest risk and still merit the highest insurance costs.

“Girls are getting up there with the boys,” said Meredith. “So you’re seeing girls texting or doing other things and hitting someone when they aren’t paying attention.”

Meredith also informed me that insurance companies now use an individual’s credit score to set rates.

“You kind of scratch your head and say why would that matter,” she asked? “Now they’re using your credit score more so than your driving record. We don’t do it but most insurance companies do. They see it as the better your credit, the more likely you are to take care of your property and the less likely to file a claim.”

What’s it like working with dad?

“Luckily we get along good,” said Meredith. “Some days we fight but we come back in the next day like nothing happened, so it’s nice.”

“We don’t even come close to fighting like my dad and I did,” Nick Glenn added from his desk.

So she loves to work but what about entertainment?

“I’ve been going to the games at Calfee Park the majority of my life,” said Meredith. “I used to run the adaptive player program with my husband, so we put in a lot of time there. We would make them food, buy air conditioners for their homes and buy kitchen stuff, so that they could cook for themselves. We made a lot of friends throughout the years because we ran that from 2009 until David (Hagen) bought it and the Yankees came in.”

In July 2017, Meredith’s husband, Wally McGrady, passed away.

“Getting widowed at 33 was obviously not in the plans and kind of threw me for a loop,” she said. “But I figured it out and kept moving. You’ve got to enjoy life. Enjoy every day. Do the things that you didn’t think you could do … travel.

“My goal is to go somewhere new that I’ve never been before every year. That’s why I don’t work 90 hours a week. My sister can pull a 90 hour week and I keep telling her that she needs to slow down and enjoy life. I figured that out early in life.”

Meredith made her way out to the Rocky Mountains earlier this year and has plans to visit Tahiti and Bora Bora later this summer. That’s pretty exotic but Meredith also finds new places closer to home.

“I love winery hopping,” she admitted. “I was at Iron Heart Winery the first weekend that they opened the tasting room just because I was so excited to have a winery that close to home. One day Adam Fariss called me up and said ‘Hey could you work the tasting room for me? I’m kind of in a pinch.’ I said I’ve never worked a winery tasting room before. He said ‘You’ve gone to enough. You’ll be fine.’”

“So that’s where it kind of started and it’s been fun and interesting to learn the ropes. I still don’t nearly know everything there is to know, but you constantly learn when you’re out there talking to Adam. It’s a lot of fun. A nice side gig to have.”

No doubt, the lady loves to work but she loves to play, too.

As for myself, when I picture Meredith McGrady, I see her atop a 12 foot long board with a paddle in her hand.

Not only has the Glenn Insurance Agency sponsored the Gusto of Gatewood Park Paddle Board Race since its inception in 2018, but Meredith paddled in last year’s contest and is set to race again for the Fourth Annual Gusto of Gatewood Park Paddle Board Race on Saturday, Aug. 7.

“I’ve been paddle boarding for five summers now,” she said with a big smile. “I love it. It’s very relaxing.”

No argument here, though Meredith won’t likely be relaxing when the starting gun fires at 1 p.m. that Saturday afternoon … or maybe she will.

Either way, we’ll be glad to see her at this year’s event.

Meredith knows that whatever happens in this life, a person must … Go for the Gusto!

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