At Career Crossroads, Donahue Opens State Farm Agency

WARREN, Ohio – Traveling down Market Street in Warren, drivers are currently met with traffic cones and road crews. It’s fitting since Rob Donahue was at a crossroads in his career a couple years ago. 

After 19 years as a social worker, he needed a change. On Monday, Donahue cut the ribbon on his State Farm Insurance office in downtown Warren with the sounds of construction in the background.

“If you would have asked me a year ago where I’d be, I never would have thought that I’d be in this position, so it’s very exciting for me to make a career change and be a State Farm agent,” Donahue said.

Donahue has several friends who are State Farm agents. After talking to his wife, who was getting her master’s degree in education, it became apparent that someone needed to make a career change. Roughly two years ago, a recruiter for State Farm reached out to Donahue, and he took the company up on their offer.

“Being a social worker was a great opportunity because it allows me to empathize with people, especially when things aren’t going their way,” Donahue said. “And in the insurance business, a lot of times we deal with situations that aren’t going right for customers and provide service to them.”

Donahue invested $30,000 into the business, mostly training and in acquiring an office at 183 W. Market St. He spent six months in Atlanta training for the career change. Due to COVID-19, he had to cut his in-person training short and finish via Skype.

The State Farm branch has two other employees. Associate agent Joseph Christopher handles many of the property insurance policies while Claims and service agent Samantha Sirna is in charge of billing and a number of other responsibilities. Donahue said he’s looking to add two other agents now that the office is up and running. 

Opening an insurance office was a larger task than Donahue originally expected. He is working around the clock, seven days a week, as the branch continues to grow. The father of three said the process has been tough, but he’s aware that the hard work will one day pay off.

“You have to have hard work nowadays,” Donahue said. “If not, you’re not going to be successful as you thought you would be.”

Location played a significant role in Donahue’s office space. He didn’t want to be another insurance agent on Elm Road. He wanted to near high-traffic areas like the amphitheater and the square, but also available for many of the businesses in downtown Warren.

“You got the West & Main restaurant, you got [Jacked Steakhouse], you have [Modern Methods] that’s right over there,” Donahue said. “So a lot of things happening in this downtown area, I wanted to be a part of.”

Representatives from the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber were present for the ribbon cutting. And Greg Bartholomew, owner of All American Cards and Comics, stopped by to see the new insurance agent that sits a couple doors down from his store.

Donahue expects to see more new faces, but the construction might have to finish first.

“[I’m] ready to rock and roll, help serve the community, be a part of the community, so the ribbon ceremony was the first step I’d like to take in integrating into the community,” he said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.