Patterson's financial career utilizes his rural background
Editor’s note: This article is fourth in a series about young professionals in the Jackson County community who returned to the community after college to build successful careers.
After graduating from Jackson Heights High School in 2005, Casey Patterson knew he wanted a career that would touch on his rural upbringing.
“In some capacity, I wanted to be involved in agriculture in this community. That was my direction,” Patterson said. “I loved farming and cattle, and my idea was, that’s what I want to do with my life.”
Today, Patterson works as a sales associate at Farm Bureau Financial Services in Holton, although he sees his role in providing customers with the best insurance for their lives and property as a matter of giving back to a community that’s given so much to him.
“There’s a sense of home here, and there’s that community feel,” he said of Jackson County. “There’s a sense of contentment… the satisfaction of being able to say, ‘I don’t need anything more than this.”
Upon earning a degree in animal science from Kansas State University in 2008, Patterson, son of Steve and Donna Patterson, realized that his goal of becoming a farmer was hindered by the family farm not having “enough acreage to support two full-time producers.” So he got a “town job” working for KanEquip in north Topeka, selling tractor parts full-time while doing some farming on the side.
“Being in an ag dealership, you dealt with those type of individuals and their issues and trying to find solutions for equipment breakdowns and things like that along the way,” he said. “People would come in frustrated, flabbergasted. They need that fixed yesterday, they needed that part two days ago. So I had to be efficient in finding those solutions.”
On the home front, he married Kisha McAlexander in 2009, and after the birth of their second daughter, he came home to work in cattle, mainly crossbred Angus. For four years, he helped develop heifers and calved out heifer pairs, but that work began to take its toll.
“We got to the point where I was calving out 300 heifers a year, which is a lot for one person, and it didn’t leave time for anything else, family or otherwise,” he said. “It just got heavy, to where it wasn’t good on our marriage and it was making things difficult, and as the market went the other way, we sat down and said, ‘This might be a good time to look at other opportunities that might present themselves.’”
In 2016, Patterson gave Rob Wareham at Farm Bureau Financial Services a call to see if any of those “other opportunities” were available. He had worked with Wareham’s father in high school, and he also did “a little side work” for Wareham, whose response to his query has stuck with him to this day.
“I don’t have a job,” Wareham told Patterson. “I have an opportunity.”
That opportunity was an invitation into the world of insurance, one that piqued Patterson’s interest, even though Wareham made it clear to him that he was going to be more than just an insurance salesman.
“When I first started this, he said, ‘You’re going to be an insurance agent in one meeting, you’re going to be a marriage counselor in another, you’re going to be a priest in the next one and you’re going to be a financial advisor — you’re going to wear a lot of different hats.’ I enjoy that part of it, because I’ve heard a lot of interesting things that have been hard for a lot of people to work through,” Patterson said.
He drew on his experiences with his customers at KanEquip to help those “different hats” fit just right, adding that customer service experienced gained in one industry should translate into a different industry.