Creating jobs and relationships is best policy for Chris Castanza.
Growing a business is about believing in what’s possible and going after it. Chris Castanza believes the sky’s the limit for his Farmers Insurance business, his employees, and the Martin City community. That’s why he opened his doors at 135th and Washington in 2017 and is now working to take his passion for helping people to the next level.
The Road to 135th Street
Castanza grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and studied business and communications in college. He moved to South Kansas City and explored different areas of sales and small business management before joining Farmers Insurance in 2015. Castanza says Farmers offered an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“It was a chance to help people protect what’s important to them through insurance and also grow their assets through financial planning. Farmers also gave me a chance to build a team of employees and that was really important to me.”
Castanza received training at the Farmers Insurance district office in Overland Park where a variety of seasoned professionals took him under their wing. When he was ready to launch his own location, he set his sights on Martin City.
“Martin City was familiar to me and the entire South Kansas City area is an expanding market, so it was an easy decision to come here.”
Castanza knew the area because he had lived in South Kansas City for eight years, owned a residential property in Martin City, and his son attended school nearby. Martin City’s location alone gave him the confidence to start a business here.
“When you look at the South Kansas City area on the whole, the ideal location for a business with growth potential is Martin City. It’s sort of the hub of the entire area. It’s got the most energy and the business community is forward-thinking. And being located here allows my office to serve customers for miles on both sides of the state line.”
Job Creator and Coach
Castanza hit the ground running in Martin City with four employees. A year-and-a-half later, his operation continues to grow. In fact, Castanza’s office is the number one performing Farmers Insurance office across the Midwest region in terms of growth. He credits strong support from the district office but gives even more credit to his employees.
“We’re now up to eleven people on staff. I have a great team. Helping them evolve as people and employees is a real passion of mine. They’re young, motivated, good people from good families wanting to build careers by simply doing a good job. Many are from around here so they’re serving their neighbors and that gives them even more purpose.”
A love of team building has always been a big part of what makes Castanza tick. He says you can trace it back to his childhood.
“I think a lot about when I was involved in basketball while growing up. As both a player and a coach, I enjoyed helping people pull together to achieve. These days it’s great to be able to create an experience that unites and rewards my employees. I really believe as long as an employee is willing, coachable and can follow directions, they’re going to find success.”
“Chris knows how to bring out the best in you,” says Farmers Field Agent Daniel Bellomy. “I was working in a different industry and he quickly spotted my potential as a member of his team and brought me in. I just love what I do here now.”
“My brother has created a culture here where everyone supports, encourages and challenges each other,” adds Farmers Field Agent Holden Castanza. “This business is a place of massive growth, not just in sales numbers, but also in terms of personal growth. That really tells you something about Chris.”
One clear theme at Castanza’s office is that the work is more about serving more than selling, and that requires a sincere interest in each customer.
“We make sure we take care of our customers and that’s only possible by getting to know them. An emphasis on understanding our customers’ needs is very motivating for my employees. It makes their work meaningful.”
New Champion of Old-Fashioned Values
Castanza believes at its core, good business involves creating something valuable that extends far beyond yourself. He was raised on the idea that one person’s success should lift others in the community.
“I am motivated by my own potential and how that can also translate to furthering the potential of people around me. You know, this one life is all we have so it needs to count and that can only happen if we make a difference for ourselves, our families and our community.”
Sound inspiring? That’s why you may not be surprised to learn that Castanza rallies insurance professionals around the country with routine speaking engagements from St. Louis to Seattle.
“It’s not about the specifics of insurance products. My presentations speak to leadership, motivation and management. I think those are areas where I really have something valuable to offer my colleagues.”
He also offers something valuable to Martin City residents and businesses as an insurance agent who knows our neighborhood and feels connected to it.
“We don’t just hang out a sign and sell insurance and financial planning to whoever happens to walk in the door. The best way to succeed in a local business is to truly become part of the local community. It’s sort of an old fashioned insurance agent philosophy and we are bringing it back because it’s the right thing to do.”
Investing in a Community that’s ‘Catching On’
Now that Castanza’s business is off the ground, he’s looking to up his game with the goals of creating twice as many jobs over the next couple of years and expanding his footprint in Martin City. He’d like to take over more space at the shopping center he’s in, or maybe buy a building nearby. He’s also open to the idea of building a new one.
“South Kansas City and Martin City have been so good to me and I’m inspired to give back by strengthening our area the best way I can. That means investing in our community by taking care of customers, creating jobs, generating tax revenue and reaching out to people in need when we get the chance.”
Castanza says an easy step any Martin City business can take to help our community is to keep spending close to home.
“I opened my business with an immediate focus on buying local. My team has explored every restaurant around here from Margarita’s to Jack Stack BBQ. When we spend money, we make Martin City businesses a priority.”
As someone who thrives on chasing potential, Castanza always has an eye on the future. He knows that running a business out of Martin City means he’s getting in on the ground level of a community on the upswing.
“Martin City has a fresh vibe. It’s a unique vibe. You know, it’s a place where people want to be. It feels energetic. It feels positive. People are very positive. They’re just warm, hospitable and simply happy to be here. There’s a feeling that we kind of have a perfect blend of small town and city life here and it’s catching on.”
Just like those basketball teams he coached and the employee team he nurtures, Castanza believes the business community’s ability to pull together is the key to unlocking all the good things to come.
“The revitalization going on in Martin City right now is proof of the power of community. It’s amazing what business owners can do when they have a common vision and put their money, heart and time behind it. I feel right at home and can’t wait to see where it all goes.”
We’re excited to have dedicated people like Chris and his team working in Martin City too! If you’ve never met them, please stop by their office in the State Line Point Shops and let them know how wonderful it is to have them in Martin City 🙂