Tracy McKenica Besenyodi: Child’s Play Leads To Adult Success
When Tracy McKenica Besenyodi’s son was born in 2001, she felt pulled to spend more time with her family. She’d been commuting from Akron, Ohio, to Cleveland for a series of jobs in retail management, recruiting and sales management – none of which felt like the right career.
That’s when her dad, Robert McKenica, suggested she put her experience to work as part of his Allstate agency.
“Even when she was very young and came to the Sears store where I started or to my offices later on, she was always at ease with the adults in the room and able to interact with them comfortably,” Robert McKenica says. Back then, she would link together chains of paperclips and sit on the counter playing with office supplies. She’d go home and play at calling Allstate customers on her toy phone.
Today, Tracy owns four agencies in and around Akron, her hometown.
“The biggest lesson I learned from my dad was the importance and value of integrity,” Tracy says. “He impressed upon me at a young age that any job worth doing was worth doing right, whether it was my schoolwork, chores at the house or a paying job.”
Tracy comes from a long line of entrepreneurs – her grandfather owned a machine shop in Buffalo, New York – and her father wanted to be sure she learned every aspect of the business before taking over. She spent the first 14 years of her insurance career handling a variety of roles in the agency before her dad retired in December 2016.
Tracy admired how her father treated staff and customers like family and wanted to continue that legacy when she bought the business. His philosophy of giving everyone respect and consideration formed the foundation for growing an agency that served thousands of customers over the years.
The experience gave her an appreciation of all the hard work that goes into every role within an agency.
“He felt it was important to be able to step away from your work at the end of the day knowing you gave it your best effort and that whatever decisions you made or work you did was always in the best interests of the customer. I carry that advice with me every day in every aspect of my life.”
Robert, meanwhile, has enjoyed watching his daughter grow from those early days of sitting on the counter to becoming a business owner.
“I’m most proud of how she was able to excel at school and then work while still making time for family,” Robert says.
Now, Tracy’s son has worked with her at the agency over the last few summers. Is there a third generation in the works?
“I don’t think that’s his goal, but it sure was fun for the three of us to work together in the family business,” Tracy says. “It’s an experience we’re all grateful for.”