Big Voice for the Independent Agent
Listen. Hear that booming baritone voice, the wicked New England accent? Wait, he’s coming this way. Around the corner struts 6’4” of encyclopedic knowledge, keen wit, and a ready smile.
Every encounter with Mike Foy is a memorable one. The recipient of this year’s NetVU Leadership Award rarely if ever needs an introduction because it seems like he knows everyone. Mike has been referred to as “indispensable” to the success of NetVU and it’s a reputation he has earned over the years with an unflagging commitment and unwavering passion.
At this year’s annual meeting of NetVU members, Mike was presented with the NetVU Leadership Award in Memory of Louie E. Woodbury Jr. The award honors “long-time leadership, proven achievement, and ongoing contributions to NetVU and our industry.”
In announcing the award, past board chair Joe Claubaugh said, “Mike has been a huge influence on NetVU for years. His service on the board through many changes in Vertafore and NetVU leadership, and industry changes, has been unwavering. He's an excellent go-to for historical information, opinions on how to handle issues, and more. He has volunteered more time for NetVU in the past two years than most have in their entire careers, including the time he served as interim executive director of NetVU. He knows our by laws better than anyone else, understands the budget, and is passionate about NetVU's mission.”
Officially, Mike is president and owner of Foy Insurance Group, a family of independent agencies based in Exeter, NH. But if you didn’t know better, you’d swear he also works for Vertafore.
“For a long time I called Mike the lowest paid employee at Vertafore – and one of the most valuable,” says Dave Acker, vice president of Rating & Connectivity at Vertafore and someone who has worked alongside Mike to continually improve PL Rating and other tools. “All he ever asks of us is our support in making the product better.”
Mike chairs Dave’s R&D committee and has been a constant on the committee as other volunteers come and go. But that’s just one of many roles Mike Foy has played in the NetVU organization. He’s served as an advisory board member, as board chair and on numerous committees.
But perhaps more than that, this is a guy who’s seemingly on call 24/7, always willing to help another insurance professional.
“Mike is extremely knowledgeable and approachable,” says Jessica Jeffress, immediate past board chair and assistant vice president of business insurance and employee benefits at Peel & Holland. “If I have a question about anything in the industry – whether it’s a coverage question or an operations question – Mike is always eager to help.”
Jessica goes on, “We always joke about the 10,000 vacation days he’s saved up because he never takes a break. He is so passionate about moving the industry forward, and I admire his tenacity to do so. You just can’t find a nicer guy.”
This “nice guy” from New Hampshire learned the value of helping others at a tender age. When he was a boy, he would accompany his dad on Sundays to visit clients. In fact, the Foy family motto is “deeds, not words” and it’s fundamental to how Mike lives his life and practices his profession.
But words are also important. Mike is a talker. A storyteller.
“Mike never met a stranger, someone he couldn’t make conversation with or discuss a business idea with,” says Joe Clabaugh, past board chair and NetVU’s first carrier representative. “Once, he chatted up a homeless guy outside the hotel in Dallas and convinced him to pursue his dream of starting a business selling toothpicks along with beef jerky.”
Joe refers to Mike as “our internal legal counsel,” because he can answer almost any question when it comes to processes or decisions that need to be made.
“He’ll pull the most detailed information out of his head, like ‘On page six of the bylaws, paragraph three,’ and it just leaves you speechless. He always adds tremendous value to every discussion and helps the group chart the right path forward.”
Everyone you talk to says Mike has a big heart – big enough to encompass not only NetVU but his local community. All of the offices of the Foy Insurance Group have centralized functions like accounting and automation, which gives employees more time to put their compassion into action and help their favorite nonprofits.
“It’s that big heart and limitless energy that stand out,” says Clabaugh. “Mike was instrumental in NetVU’s success during a recent transition between two executive directors. He ran the office along with his own business and never missed a beat, didn’t complain once. Always wore that big smile.”
It’s his unconditional selflessness that makes Mike a great ambassador for the independent agent network. Fellow agency principal Carl Schlotman has known Mike for about 25 years and says he has a deep regard for relationships, as evidenced by his ability to bring people together.
“I called him recently because I needed an event policy for a client, and got three phone calls from people he knows,” says Schlotman, president and CEO of CAI Insurance Agency and a former NetVU board chair. “That’s typical Mike, and speaking from my experience, he’s not just being generous because we’ve spent a bunch of time together, but because I’m another independent agent and he’s willing to help anyone who asks.”