This article first appeared in the March 4 issue of the Progress Times.
Sara Valdez reached her golden work anniversary at Mission Duncan Insurance. She was honored by the family-owned company and treated by her coworkers to a celebratory lunch.
When people use the term “family-oriented business” Mission Duncan ought to mind. Valdez spoke about the atmosphere that kept her happy for five decades. The insurance and financial services company has operated for more than 100 years, since 1911.
“The people are awesome, the job is great,” Valdez said. “You get to meet so many people from so many different places. This is my second home really. The company’s owners Mr. Roseland and now his daughter Ginger and Keith Padilla they’re very family-oriented and run the business like a family. It makes you comfortable and you’re happy to get up every morning and go to work.”
Her office is a glimpse into her life. Crosses adorn the walls, a display case with tons of knick knacks and gifts through the years make you feel comfortable in someone else’s world.
“I had just gotten out of high school and I had gone to an insurance school,” Valdez said. “The teacher there was the ex-brother-in-law to the lady that managed the business here. He sent me over here. I work with great people, great personalities and very kind people. They’re kind to the customers too and you don’t get that everywhere.”
Mission Duncan President and Owner, Keith Padilla points toward Valdez as a shining example of kindness.
“Sara as an employee is just great, the customers love her, Padilla said. “The Winter Texas love her, she’s like family to them. Every year when they come in they ask for her specifically and they’ll take care of business but at the same time get caught up on family lives or kids or whatever. The relationships she’s been able to build are incredible. She’s always smiling, very knowledgeable about what she does.”
He said more about her personality.
“As a person, she’s even better than that,” Padilla said. “She is very giving and generous and sweet and obviously 50 years should answer those questions. She’s a staple not only to Mission Duncan but Mission.”
Even though her first day was in 1972, Valdez says time went by fast in the best way.
“It feels like yesterday,” Valdez joked. “There was a lady that was here, her name was Lillian Henderson and she had been here 30 years. I was in awe of someone having worked somewhere 30 years and here I am 50 years later. I was very nervous when I first got here because I didn’t know what I was going to be doing.”
She shared the story of Mission Duncan’s support during cancer treatment and of the bond she’s forged with clients.
“I went through cancer a couple of years ago and these people were very kind to me and kept me on the payroll and everything,” Valdez said. “I had some customers that didn’t want to make payments because I was gone. A lot of the customers would bring cards and the ladies here would relay cards to me in San Antonio where I was.”
Mission Duncan Insurance has been a community pillar for over 110 years. Because of the strong reputation in the community, Padilla says word of mouth is enough.
“We don’t do a lot of advertising because we’re very involved with the community whether it’s the school, city, non-profits we try to get involved any way we can,” Padilla said. “Our client base just knows we’re here, knows we’re going to be here for another 100 years hopefully. It’s a very nice family atmosphere.”
So if you’re looking for a family-owned, friendly insurance company and a kind soul to help you through the process; look no further than Mission Duncan and Mrs. Sara Valdez.