Jamie Ausec works in insurance, but she began her career by taking risks. In 2006, she left the familiarity of the Pacific Northwest, where she was raised, for California and a job solely based on commission.
“It was a bit of a gamble that I only look back on now with relief and gratitude that it turned out the way it has. I mean, what was I thinking?” she laughs. “It was a risk that paid off. I love my career and the people I have the privilege of working with.”
Initially, Ausec was interested in business consulting. But a mentor suggested she first gain sufficient work experience in business and sales, so she took a chance and moved down the coast. Before long, she earned her insurance credentials and began moving up the corporate ladder, working for ADP (the payroll company also has an insurance sector) and then Alliant Insurance.
“When I first moved to California, I wasn’t even sure what direction I would take — it was either commercial banking, which sounded extremely boring at the time, or selling voluntary insurance. To me, insurance seemed like a delightful choice compared to banking,” she says.
Today, Ausec serves as the Vice President of Employee Benefits with Precision Manufacturing Insurance Services (PMIS), an insurance company dedicated to the manufacturing industry. Her ideal client is smaller-based businesses — including several fastener manufacturers — that typically employ under 100 employees.
“Most of my career involved working with the top five firms and helping very large groups. But I’ve learned that my passion is the smaller, often family-based companies with second or third-generation owners,” she shares. “A percentage or two really affects their bottom line, especially with year-over-year increases — whether it’s related to business insurance, commercial policies, or employee benefits, these costs matter.”
As such, Ausec is fulfilling her initial desire to become a business consultant because what she offers is more than just insurance. It’s a business strategy.
“By moving from the ‘big houses’ so to speak, to more of a boutique niche insurance firm that focuses only on the industry of manufacturing metalwork and plastics, has been a blessing because now I can make a substantial impact, particularly given our current economy,” she says. “And I get to witness that impact in a way that typically doesn’t happen with larger companies.”
With massive corporations, insurance negotiations can take six months to a year as they go through the C-suite and board of directors. “Even then, the CFO might have a buddy he golfs with every Friday who’s always going to win the business regardless of how much of an impact I can have.”
The impact matters to Ausec. And so does the client. So, before joining PMI Services, she asked herself: “Who is my ideal client and how do I duplicate that type of client over and over?”
Turns out, it’s the people she can have one-on-one conversations with that become more like friends than business acquaintances. It’s the people she can strategize with, develop safety management plans, and help optimize their manufacturing facility. It’s the people who work in the fastener industry.
“I really enjoy learning about manufacturing and the nature of operations,” she says. “For example, how does a company maintain their shop? How do they ensure safety protocols? What’s the company culture? And is there any way I can help enhance any of this?”
What makes PMIS different is it is unlike a generalist insurance company. Rather than covering a broad selection of companies — such as retail shops, restaurants, mechanics, manufacturers, and so on — it solely specializes in manufacturing. This means its knowledge base is completely focused on and educated in manufacturing needs.
“We also support a company beyond the typical property coverage,” Ausec shares. “We review inherent potential risks and will ensure a facility has proper safety protocols in place, and that everyone fully understands them. We also have an inner understanding of the equipment and the potential for breakdowns. If a $500,000 machine goes down that’s a massive potential loss of revenue for a company. We develop plans that can offer faster claim coverage to reduces business interruption to ensure the revenue flow.”
PMIS also specializes in seemingly minute details — for instance, even reviewing a company’s website for verbiage or images that might raise red flags for carriers.
“We always say that we don’t really sell insurance. Since no two facilities that we work with are the same, we sell a shop’s unique risks and challenges to underwriters,” she explains. “And because this is all we do, our carriers listen to us and our underwriters know that we fully understand these risks.”
These details — learning about the nuances between manufacturers, their equipment, and personnel — are what Ausec is passionate about.
“I love learning, and I learn something new nearly every day,” she says. “One might think all fasteners or parts manufacturers are similar, but nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve got a shop that makes specific parts for nuclear power plants, another that makes ones for rocket ships and aerospace, and another who makes specific parts for Tesla. The risks, the employees, the company culture, and the safety culture are all unique and deserve personalized attention.”
Ausec also enjoys the challenge. “As a female walking into a very male-dominated industry, I’ve felt like I’ve had to be twice as knowledgeable about these topics to gain the credentials to build rapport. But this has only made me want to learn more and excel at my job to support the manufacturers we work with.”
Ausec has certainly done that and more. She’s involved with Pacific-West Fastener Association, the trade association for fastener distributors and suppliers in the western U.S. and Canada, and is invested in recruiting younger people in the industry.
“Many youths don’t consider the fastener or manufacturing industry an option after graduation, and I think it’s important to change that,” she says. “PMIS is also interested in building a bridge between our clients and getting the youth of America interested in the industry by providing shop owners and executives a blueprint and resources to go to local high schools and let students know that this is a viable career opportunity.”
Ausec also has advice for those already in the industry. “If there’s one thing I can share, it’s this: do your research and find an insurance broker you can trust. Most people spend more time interviewing an employee than a broker. But God forbid, there’s a fire or someone accidentally slips and falls or is injured working a piece of equipment at your facility. This can seriously affect a company’s rating, and interrupt business and revenue. It’s not worth the risk.”