Shawn Black Herring: Taking Dad’s Lessons To Heart
Shawn Black Herring clearly remembers visiting her father’s Allstate agency when she was just 3 years old. Jerry Black started his Allstate career in the Sears store in New Bern, North Carolina.
“He had a small cubicle near the tire shop, on the left side of the store,” Shawn says. “My mom would take my two sisters and me over to the store to bring him lunch.”
Shawn admired how much her father loved interacting with customers and the other Sears employees. To her, he made helping people look like so much fun.
He also worked hard and emphasized the same with his daughters.
“We all had chores and responsibilities and, as we grew older, you were either enrolled in college after high school or started working,” Shawn says. “The principles of responsibility at those young ages made us independent, financially responsible and good stewards of giving back to our communities.”
When they were starting out on their own, Shawn and her sisters used to joke they would have rather asked a loan shark for money than their father. They knew asking would turn into a lesson.
“He would say, ‘That wouldn’t happen if you pay yourself first and don’t overspend; only buy what you can afford without needing a loan,’” Shawn says. “I once offered to exchange paychecks with him when I was a retail clerk in a clothing store during college. He never took me up on that. Now, I’m appreciative of all those lessons.”
Her father’s example had a lasting effect. Jerry says all three of his daughters visited the agency, but Shawn was most interested in the work. By age 12, she was telling people she wanted to be an Allstate agent when she grew up, so Jerry told her to study hard in school and she would make it.
“I never realized (she was serious about insurance), until she finished college,” Jerry says. “She had a job near school, but it wasn’t working out too well for her. So, I made her an offer to come work with me and see if she would be interested in taking over one day. I could see quickly that she would be great.”
At age 32, Shawn bought the agency in 2002. She put her dad’s lessons to work, paying off her 10-year business loan in eight years.
Shawn has enjoyed getting to know customers at her agency, much like Jerry did in the 1970s. She’s now helping second- and third-generation Allstate customers, just as her dad did.
“We are simple, Southern, not fancy people,” Shawn says. “He was taught to work for things that you want to achieve early in life and passed that on to me. A strong work ethic was a requirement in our family and it still holds true today.”