Jean and Terry Miller are not just partners in life, but partners in business as well.
The married couple are the owners of Miller’s Insurance Solution in Alton and are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their business.
For Jean, going to insurance was an unexpected journey at the start.
“I was wondering what skills I had that could be transferable to a new career, and it just came about in one of those interesting ways as accidents are,” Jean said. “I guess it’s called the broken road that led me straight to here. I’ve been able to be amused by what seems a completely unexplainable journey.”
Terry grew up in Wood River, and after graduating from Southern Illinois University he worked at dredges along the Mississippi River as an administrative clerk. From there, he worked as a biologist for a short period of time.
“I got downsized and spent 20 years working on the old lock and dam and went to the new one when it was completed,” Terry said. “I spent 28 years working for the Corps of Engineers. When the opportunity to retire came up, I took it.”
His wife, Jean, a graduate of Blackburn College, worked in banking throughout the 1990s, having good and bad experiences.
“You might be cleaning the bathrooms and then you are also doing loans and mortgages,” Jean said.
Jean’s background was financial as well as customer service. She has worked for banks in the Alton and Godfrey area that no longer exist, such as Mercantile Bank.
Before Jean was in banking, she worked in retail clothing management, where she gained her customer service experience.
Jean was raised in Carlinville, where her family has lived since 1834.
“I’m really proud of that heritage because when times get tough, you have to think to yourself: if they manage to hang on during the thick and the thin, well, then I can, too,” Jean said.
Knowledge of banking and insurance runs in Jean’s family.
“My grandfather had been a farmer and insurance agent for 50 years, so banking and insurance has been in my family for almost 200 years,” Jean said. “My family dabbled in real estate, livestock, banking and insurance ever since they have been in Carlinville.”
After getting support from her husband, Jean eventually made the transition from banking to creating her own insurance business. Jean has been working with her husband since 2007.
“I get bored when I don’t have a challenge,” Jean said. “If I didn’t have his support, I probably would have walked away from it. I just didn’t have the courage to walk away from a paycheck.”
The couple’s business does more than help customers with health and life insurance; they help those going through difficult periods in their life.
“We have a client whose husband died in April and it threw her for a loop,” Jean said. “She couldn’t program her digital thermostat, so Terry came over and was able to program it for her.”
While Jean was there, she observed that there were a lot of household maintenance problems, such as blocked gutters, that a husband usually would do.
“I reached out for a guy, Bob Erwin, my brother-in-law, to do a humanitarian service,” Jean said. “He cleaned and repaired her gutters on his own time.”
Jean and Terry often take an extra step when it comes to assisting people with their problems, whatever they may be.
“You deal with people with a sense of humanity,” Terry said. “It’s gratifying providing a solution and knowing you helped them in a way that they didn’t know was possible.”
Jean Miller and Terry Miller celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary on Oct. 20.
Miller’s Insurance Solution is located at 2522 State St. in Alton. For information, call (618) 466-1901.