We recently sat down with Derek Wirz, longtime CatchFire Funding client, to see how his insurance business, The Southern Agency, was going. As it turns out, Derek is about to expand to his third office!

Below are a few highlights from our interview, but if you have a moment, please watch his inspiring success story.

What’s your favorite part of business ownership?

“Every day to me, as a result of owing my own agency, is a Friday… it’s freedom, it’s the idea of hope, it’s the fun of putting a deal together, it’s the idea of being able make everyone’s day who works for you better. I tell my employees, ‘it’s my responsibility to make you happy’ and that’s how I run my operations. I will work tirelessly to make sure my employees are happy, and it’s reflected in their work and it’s reflected in how they handle customers… because, quite frankly, I’ve seen the worst… so I decided I would be the best.”

How did you fund your insurance business?

“I was looking at the possibility of either going into debt to create the company, or to figure out how to take my current assets and figure out a way to fund the operation, and to have some working capital… we contacted Bill [Seagraves] and struck up a great conversation… I did a lot of research, got with my accountant and Bill and put together the plan for how to fund it and create the enterprise… it was because of Bill and his company we were able to make that start comfortable… we made the ends meet using my 401k as the angel investment.”

Did you have reservations about using a Self-Directed 401k?

“I always thought in the back of my mind there may be something like that but the problem was, you read so much about the dangers of using [that money] – don’t touch your 401k, this is for the future not for today – but when I did the research and talked to Bill he reassured me this was very much a legal method, and a very wholesome method to use to fund your business.”

Paint us a picture of The Southern Agency

“We have two locations, one in Tennessee near Chattanooga – we’re on the border of Georgia and Alabama so 50% of our business is in Alabama and Georgia, primarily going after manufacturing businesses and restaurant chains… so we evolved to a retail space before starting a second location in Nashville and my daughter and another gentleman run that office… it’s primarily commercial lines… now we’re in the process of acquiring another insurance agency in the south to help continue to grow the operation.”

What is your strategy for future growth?

“We like organic growth, but also acquiring… it’s very difficult to find talented insurance people. As we grow, we continue to need more people and one way to find new people is to buy an [existing] insurance organization, so we’re in the process of doing that now… it would be a third location in the south.”

How did the pandemic affect your business?

“It changed a whole lot of how we did things. I remember every other day I was on the road somewhere in the south. When it took place, [employees] all went home but I kept coming to the office… we were called an ‘essential’ business… we continued on like normal but everyone else worked from home. I think that really forced me to start working on the business as opposed to working in the business, and it hasn’t really changed.

During that time, we actually continued growing significantly because we were contacting prospects on the phone, telling them what we could do for them when they weren’t even hearing from their current insurance agent! It’s made us really strong. Because I’m working on the business I’m able to strategize and put together new plans for the future.”

Anything you want to say to the CatchFire Funding team?

“I love CatchFire. I’m very grateful for Bill Seagraves, very grateful for the services team and what they’ve done for me and my family… for liberating me from working from somebody else… we are who we are because of them and being able to give us that edge and that confidence in knowing that when we created the company, we created it knowing our 401k had our back.”

Any advice for those considering using a Self-Directed 401k?

“If somebody wants to start a business and you have money in your 401k that will fund it, do business with CatchFire. Go with it, if you believe in yourself, go with it. The CatchFire process, they’re experts. They have not let me down and they have not misguided me in any way, shape or form and I believe that with all my heart.

I believe you will be liberated. Love what you do and do what you love. And I will tell you with certainty, ever since I started my business there’s not been one bad day. Not one bad day! Because I’m working for myself and my job is to make my people, my employees… to make them happy, and there is no better feeling than that.”

Are you a midcareer entrepreneur who’s looking to unlock your business and funding possibilities? If so, contact us today to explore all of your options, and to speak directly to Bill Seagraves, our President and the Author of the book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinventing Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur.