by Dennis Dalman
In the tiny town of Tyler, Minn. people teased Dan Anderson with wicked but affectionate jabs, calling him a big TV star and a hotshot.
All because Anderson and his new baby went to Hollywood to be in a State Farm insurance commercial that was seen far and wide.
Anderson, who lives in Sartell, is still a big State Farm fan. He recently opened a State Farm office at 3306 3rd St. N. in St. Cloud. Anderson and his staff offer about 100 products that include car insurance, house insurance, life insurance, health insurance, mutual funds, annuities, banking services and more. To find out more, visit his website at: InsureMeDan.com
When Anderson was a State Farm agent in Tyler, a town of only 1,200 people in southwest Minnesota, one day he received a call from a State Farm official in Chicago requesting a photo of him and his newborn son, Connor. He sent the photos. Later, he received another call. State Farm sent a woman videographer from Chicago to film father and son in Anderson’s office. Still later, he had another call. State Farm wanted the two of them to be in a nationwide TV commercial. Stunned, Anderson agreed. He, his wife Melissa, their three boys and Melissa’s mother (Marie Clausen), who doubled as their babysitter, flew to Hollywood where they spent a week.
Expert set designers, using their kind of magic, created a State Farm office in an old garage. Then the filming began. One scene shows Anderson holding his sleepless baby at home in a chair in front of a fireplace. To calm the baby, he gives it a pacifier. In the next scene, Anderson is in his State Farm office, talking to a customer. He reaches in his shirt pocket for a pen and – presto! – out comes the pacifier. Nearly 75 people were involved in the production of the commercial, which ran on TV for about two years, starting in 2002.
The entire experience was a pleasant one for Anderson and family and for all who knew them, even those who mercilessly teased the “hotshot big star.”
The commercial-making was only one of many happy times for Anderson as an insurance agent. He is very proud to work in a company that was founded so long ago, in 1922. He is one of 18,000 State Farm agents serving 81 million people in the United States and Canada. State Farm is ranked as the number-one insurer in the nation and is listed at number 44 on the Fortune 500 list. It is a mutual company owned by its policy holders, not stockholders.
“I love the job,” Anderson said. “I’m a people kind of person. When we lived in Tyler, my kids would be asked at school what their daddy does. My boys would tell them, ‘He takes care of people when they need him the most. He gives them money.’ ”
As a people person, Anderson has met many kind and interesting people, including Sartell residents Dick and Jackie Lundstrom. Dick was a State Farm agent for 40 years, Jackie was his assistant for 30 years. When they retired in April of this year, Anderson, who has been a State Farm agent for 18 years, agreed to take over their office on 33rd Avenue in St. Cloud.
“We’re a customer-centric business,” he said. “Taking good care of our customers is critically important. We can do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Anderson was born and raised in Bellview, near Redwood Falls. He later married his high school sweetheart, Melissa Clausen. For a time, Melissa was also an agent – for AAA.
Anderson earned a degree in finance and business computer information systems from St. Cloud State University in 1994. The Anderson family moved quite often to various cities before choosing Sartell five years ago as their home, and they are glad they did. Anderson refused an offer to move to Wisconsin.
“It’s because of Sartell’s school system,” he said. “We are dedicated to this school system and this town.”
He also loves the stability of Sartell because in some former years Anderson had to do quite a lot of commuting.
“It’s so nice to be able to drop Connor off at his school every morning,” he said.
Anderson credits his staff’s teamwork for the success of his agency. They are Linda Dolan of Sartell, sales associate with 23 years of State Farm experience; Trent Thompson of Sartell, whom Anderson is mentoring in the State Farm “Agent Aspirant” program; Barb Paris of Royalton, sales associate with 30 years of State Farm experience; Shannon Pusc of Little Falls, with eight years of State Farm experience; and Rosie Hennen of St. Nicholas, who does customer service. All of those, except Thompson, also worked for Dick and Jackie Lundstrom in the St. Cloud office.
Melissa Anderson is a paraprofessional at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Sartell. She and Dan have three children: Brady, a 2012 graduate of Sartell High School who is now a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where he is studying biological science; Hunter, a junior at Sartell High School who enjoys playing basketball, football and golf; and Connor, a fifth-grader at Sartell Middle School.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.