Like a Good Neighbor, Jon Ferguson Was Here

Our guest Tuesday in Midwest Entrepreneurs class was local State Farm Insurance Agent Jon Ferguson (

While one may not think of an insurance agent as an entrepreneur, it was clear by the time that Jon was finished with us that what he does to best serve his clients and otherwise run his business as effectively as possible has much in common with how more traditional entrepreneurs go about achieving these same core goals.

I now turn things over to class member Zariah Gaston to tell the entrepreneurial-like (and family-business-laden) story of Jon Ferguson.


Jon Ferguson, a State Farm agent located in Monmouth, who is an alum of Cornell College (Iowa), was our guest speaker on April 22, 2014.

Mr. Ferguson’s father was an insurance agent as well. In fact, he has been surrounded by them throughout his life. Moreover, his wife was an agent, and his two brothers are agents.

In college, Jon majored in Economics. After college, he started with State Farm in Lincoln, Nebraska. Later he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, continuing his work with the firm.

Due to the limited bonus advantages, he decided he wanted a franchise of his own. When deciding on a location, Ferguson chose Monmouth, Illinois. Here in Monmouth he is the only agent in throughout much of the region. He is able to work in both Warren County, Henderson County, all of Illinois, and Iowa.

John Ferguson inherited a “book of business” when he started here in Monmouth over a decade ago. He also inherited two staff members. He later fired one and hired someone else. He stuck with consistency and his other original staff members still work there today. He makes sure his employees are comfortable at work and in their lives outside of work. He gives them daily tasks in order to meet quota. Like we have heard from other speakers this semester, it seems that for Jon, one of the keys to success is treating employees well.

Most of his business comes for auto insurance. Moreover, it is 85 percent of his commission and 65 percent of his business. Although he loses 15 percent of business in auto, it is mostly because of the fact that people are moving or downsizing. The fact that he is the only agent in Monmouth gives him an advantage. He states he is “driven by sales and money.”

Zariah Gaston

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About Terrance Gabel

Terrance G. Gabel is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Commerce at Monmouth College. Originally from Keokuk, Iowa, Dr. Gabel earned his BBA (Marketing) from the University of Iowa, his Master of Science degree (Marketing) from Texas A&M University, and his Ph.D. (Marketing) from the University of Memphis. He possesses three years of business-to-business sales experience, one year of executive-level marketing management experience for a heavy industrial international trade services firm, and one year of product management experience for a large banking organization. He was also a freelance business writer and consultant for approximately three years.

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