One of the area's newest financial agencies only may be two years old, but its ownership has a 30-year backing that the proprietor considers to have been led by one of the best.
Tami S. Balas, owner of The Klopp Agency, located on the second floor at 427 Broad St. in Montoursville, has worked since she was 18 years old in the financial services field as an assistant to and beneath the guidance of the late Eph Baker.
The fledgling agency provides individuals with financial advisement for things such as retirement packages, insurance and other investment products. While fairly new to the field on her own, Balas said she's already up to about 220 clients - the majority of which she obtained from her reputation and skills granted to her via Baker's teachings.
Tami S. Balas, above, has worked in the financial services field for more than 30 years. Two years ago she started her own business, The Klopp Agency, at 427 Broad Street, Montoursville.
"A lot of them knew me since I was 18," Balas said. "I had a good teacher."
Balas likened the experience as a financial agent to that of a doctor, in that people's most intimate financial details are revealed over a period of time that a level of comfort is created between her and her clients that the possibility of changing agencies for clients may have been daunting when Baker died.
"It's financial planning that I do for people," she said. "It's a very personal service."
When she opened The Klopp Agency, Balas said she had a grateful following.
What separates her business from more corporate financial service agencies is her ability to create a comforting atmosphere at her Broad Street location.
Housed in an old Victorian home, her office is bathed in warm colors and small enough to elicit a sense of ease, as opposed to the institutional and more intimidating office settings of larger companies.
"I always put them (clients) at ease, and don't make them feel dumb asking any question," she said.
With today's technology, clients are able to do their own research prior to coming to her, and by that method, they're able to know what they're getting into, she said.
"I just help steer people in the right direction," she said. "It's their money, and I try to explain stuff in plain language."
One of the advantages of being a local agent with local roots as a graduate of Loyalsock Township High School is that she's known and seen around the area, which establishes a level of camaraderie with her clients, she said.
"If I had to start from scratch, I don't know how how I'd do it," Balas conceded as she reflected on going into business for herself.
Balas said she originally interviewed for a secreatry position at Baker's agency on a whim when she was a student at the Williamsport School of Commerce, now the Newport Business Institute.
She was encouraged to do the interview for - if nothing else - the experience of merely having one.
When Baker asked when she could start, she said, "Tomorrow."
Taking the position was "the best thing that ever happened to me," Balas said.
Baker, at the age of 93 and still working, died in 2007 from cancer, which called into question Balas's future in financial services.
"Having this person as a boss, it'd be hard to work for anyone else," she said, adding she interviewed for a few other agencies before deciding on going into business for herself.
"Thank goodness I stepped out of the box and took the chance," she said of opening The Klopp Agency.
The agency was opened under her maiden name, as she and her sister originally planned to go into business together.
"It was a leap of faith," she added.
For more information on The Klopp Agency's services, call 368-5012.