Ray Altieri and Lloyd Bezar stand in the Allstate office on Nov. 2, 2010. (Photo by Stacey Pastorella.)

Lloyd Bezar got his start in business when he was still in elementary school.

Back then, Bezar painted house numbers on the pavement in front of homes. He did the work for free, leaving envelopes for people to pay him the amount they chose.

After spending six years in the Naval Reserves, including seven months of active duty, holding several other jobs, and running a few businesses, Bezar began working for Allstate in 1967. Now, he is an exclusive agent with the company and runs his own Allstate agency in Pennington.

“How many different jobs could somebody do?” Bezar said. “I mean, nobody’s done as many as I have.”

Bezar said he has remained in the insurance industry for over 40 years because he is a good salesman who values honesty and integrity.

“The biggest thing I think insurance agents should be able to do for people, is give them advice, because it’s an advice business,” Bezar said.

Allstate offers multiple lines of insurance, including automobile, home, life, health and commercial, Bezar said.

Bezar said he prefers to work through the traditional business practice of meeting clients in person. He compares it to buying a suit. Bezar said that like a tailor, an insurance agent customizes the product for each customer based on the specifics of their situation, such as marital status, and whether they have children or own a home.

Since the agency is smaller than some, Bezar believes it is able to provide a customer service experience that isn’t always possible with bigger offices.

Bezar said that part of advising customers is making them aware of their options. When someone wants to buy a policy, Bezar said his agency provides at least five or six different quotes for comparison. Bezar said clients are not always aware there may be a slightly more expensive policy that is still affordable, and that could end up benefiting them in the long run.

“What happens is, you don’t realize ‘Oh, I can buy a little better liability for a few dollars more a month.’ And that protects you,” Bezar said.

Another important aspect of customer service is accessibility, Bezar said. His agency offers 24-hour customer service. Outside of office hours, calls are forwarded so that agents can answer questions or concerns. Bezar said that agents are also willing to make appointments, or house calls with clients after hours or on Saturdays.

Bezar said about nine of 10 customers renew with his office. A majority of the agency’s customers are referred by satisfied customers as well, Bezar said.

When customers return to the agency, they work with familiar faces, Bezar said. Bezar has worked from an Allstate office in the same shopping center since around 1987, and has been in his current office for about five years, he said.

Bezar has lived in Hopewell since around 1981. His associate sales producer, Ray Altieri, is a local resident as well. The agency also has a personal financial representative, Joseph Craig, who is available to work with customers.

Allstate is located at 25 Route 31 South in Pennington. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meetings are available on evenings and Saturdays by appointment. More information is available by phone at (609) 737-7990.