Companies that take the lead by getting involved in their community distinguish themselves from their competitors. For the past 76 years, giving back to their community has always been part of who Ireland Insurance is and what they do. Whether it’s by supporting a local charity or giving a scholarship, Mark Brandon, President and majority owner of Ireland Insurance, knows that there are things more important than making the next dollar. Being a business supported by a community for as long as Ireland Insurance has been in Yadkinville, NC, is something he doesn’t take for granted, and reaching out to others to offer his company’s support is really what doing good business is all about.
In the corporate world, a sense of community and strengthening ties with those around you sometimes takes a back seat to profits, but for Mark Brandon and Ireland Insurance, what he does on a daily basis, giving clients first-class service and attention to detail, allows him to do what he is passionate about…helping others and bringing awareness to charities and causes that are near his heart.
“Ireland Insurance was founded by Nelson Ireland in 1940, who was married to my great aunt, Jesse Brandon Ireland. Upon Nelson’s untimely death at age 49, Jesse reached out to my grandfather, Paul Brandon, to help her in the agency. My grandfather Paul, father Tom Brandon and I are the third-generation owners and have always believed in surrounding ourselves with good people, and giving back to those around us. Our family is hands-on in the business; my dad, Tom, does our public relations, going out every day and ‘shooting the breeze’ with people in the Triad; my wife, Brandy, is our bookkeeper; and my sister, Amy, is the office manager. But the ‘good people’ aren’t just the people who work for the agency; we make an effort to choose good companies whose products will meet the needs of our clients. Our clients are truly part of our extended family, and their loyalty to us from generation to generation is something we don’t take for granted. They understand that for small local businesses like Ireland Insurance to thrive, they have to support us and use our products. The products we sell are world-class financial risk protection products, but they are delivered by a friend who understands the needs of them and our area,” said Mark Brandon. For the Brandon family, everything comes down to how they can help make their community better through giving time and support.
A Mindset of Doing Good Reaps Good Results
Insuring those things in your life that you value and having a financial strategy in place are important choices to make. Ireland Insurance has been helping their clients with those types of decisions for many years, serving their clients with a passion for helping others. Outside of the office, Mark follows the other passions of his life. “One of the biggest issues a person will face when they have a passion to help and make a difference is finding the avenues to apply this passion. Find something you are passionate about and dive into it! Many of my passions derive from my association with Rotary or my church, and my wife Brandy volunteers with several organizations that advocate for children and the disadvantaged, not to mention the hours every week she puts in at our church. We look for ways to use our hands in the community. It’s important for us to involve our children when possible and to lead them by example. To us, that example requires being with people, using your hands and feet to impact lives positively, and not just firing off a social media post,” Mark commented.
Some of the organizations and causes the Brandons have chosen as a family to be contributors and activists for are JDRF [present name; formerly known as The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation], The Yadkin Family YMCA, and The Yadkin Arts Council. They also offer a scholarship, The Tim Brandon Memorial Scholarship, to a senior basketball player at Forbush High School. Mark’s brother, Tim, was killed in an auto accident when he was 16, and he loved basketball. This is the family’s way to give back to young people who spend a lot of time working on their basketball passion while maintaining excellence in the classroom. What people focus on outside of their business usually tells a story of why they are passionate about a cause, and that’s the case with the Brandons, too.
Why a Cause Becomes a Passion
In 2011, at the age of 8, the Brandon’s daughter, Olivia, was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. “I had to see my mom buried to cancer, my dad go through triple bypass surgery and watch my brother be buried as a young man. But one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was tell my daughter that she has a disease that will last her the rest of her life, and she’ll have to stick a needle in herself 10–12 times a day to keep herself alive. The expression of realization that came across her face is still with me,” recalled Mark. At that moment, the cause of diabetes research and awareness became a family passion. Olivia, “Liv,” as the family calls her, is doing well now, but it is a family task and their “new normal” to keep her healthy. Her brother, Samuel, and sister, Maddy, are very helpful with Liv’s care. The family was immediately contacted by JDRF after Olivia’s diagnosis.
“It is neither in my, nor my wife’s, nature to do something halfway. We went all-in with The JDRF One Walk that happens every fall, and this year we are the chairs for the Family Teams. JDRF does so much for millions of people that have Type-1; we just want to be a little part that gets us closer to a cure, and the good news is, we are close! There are several medical breakthroughs that [make us hope] we could see a real cure within the next ten years. As a result of our daughter having diabetes, we have been made aware of how kind most people in this world are. I won’t go so far as to say it was a blessing, but it sure made me feel better about our species. Don’t believe what you read and hear—95% of people are good!” Mark said.
Mark Brandon, his family, and the team at Ireland Insurance share a simple philosophy about life. “When you think about it, there are two things people cherish most, and those are money and time. Some of the most influential people in history gave both. An example is Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine. He could’ve patented the vaccine and become a billionaire. But the human interest in curing that awful disease was much more valuable than any amount of money. From the standpoint of time, you take Gandhi. He was not wealthy, but he gave every bit of his time in his last years to peacefully make India free. I’m inspired by true givers. When taking a class in long-term care insurance, the class material kept citing research done by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. So, I did a little research on Mr. Johnson and the Foundation. It turns out Robert Wood Johnson II gave every bit of his wealth at his death to start the Foundation. Of course, little Ireland Insurance doesn’t have the means of Mr. Johnson, but it does give me a blueprint of what I would like our business to be doing…figuring out a way to give back to the present and future, because that is really what a legacy is for anyone and any business,” commented Mark.
Ireland Insurance is located at 113 E. Main Street, Yadkinville, NC. Office hours: Mon –Fri, 9am–5pm. For information on coverage or to schedule a consultation, call 336-679-8861, or visit them online for a free quote at wnireland.com.
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