If the face of new Fairbury State Farm agent Greg Kurtenbach seems strangely familiar, it may be because his mug was seen nationwide, from 2011 to 2016, in a State Farm commercial called “Magic Jingle Buffalo.”
    No, Kurtenbach isn’t “Jake from State Farm,” that was a guy from Bloomington-Normal. In Kurtenbach’s commercial, he portrays a genie-like State Farm agent who saves two teens, sitting in their vehicle, from an angry male buffalo nearby.
    While the teens got Kurtenbach to grant their wish in the commercial, it seems Kurtenbach is the one who has had a wish granted in real life. After starting his career with State Farm in 2001, and spending the past nine years as the State Farm agent in Gibson City, Kurtenbach is returning to his roots in Fairbury.
    “I was born and raised in Chatsworth, the son of farmers Steve and Carol Kurtenbach,” he said. “My parents farmed when I was growing up and my mom grew up on a farm just north of Fairbury. I’ve had my agency down in Gibson City for the past nine years, but this area has always been home to me. So, when Gary Huston announced that he was retiring, I was very interested in taking the position and everything fell into place.”
     Kurtenbach, a 1996 Prairie Central High School graduate, said taking over for Huston as the face of State Farm for Fairbury and the surrounding communities is not something he takes lightly. The new State Farm agent said he appreciates what Huston did during his 40-year tenure.
    “I feel like I’m building on his legacy,” Kurtenbach said. “He built a great clientele base here and had great relationships with the community. I need to show them the same great service that Gary provided over the years. I look at it as almost humbling that I get to take on his clients and be the State Farm face for them.”
     Kurtenbach began working at the Fairbury office on June 1. In the two months since he started working at the office, he’s spent the majority of his time focusing on getting his name out to potential clients, while also meeting with people in the community and talking with the friends he hasn’t seen in years. Kurtenbach helped sponsor and participated in the local Shriners Hospital Golf Tournament on July 26, which he said raised $15,000 for the Shriners Hospital for Children.
    “I’m starting to get back and be involved with the community,” Kurtenbach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting reacquainted with everyone again, getting involved with a lot of things within the community. I would encourage people to come in and see me, even if it’s just to say ‘Hi.’ I’d love to see old friends again or meet new faces for the first time.”
    Currently, Kurtenbach, his wife, Nancy, who works at State Farm Corporate, and his two daughters, Emma, 16, and Ava, 14, live just south of Gibson City. Each day, Kurtenbach commutes to work, either at the office in Gibson City or Fairbury, in his grandfather Ernie Mies’ truck, which the late Mies purchased, brand new, in 1955.
    “He passed away six months before I was born, but the truck was floating around the Piper City area for a while. Growing up, I remember my dad would always point it out to me when he saw it in town,” Kurtenbach said. “Back then, you could still see his name in faded letters on the side. About six years ago, I bought the truck and had a guy from Chatsworth fix it up and re-paint it.”
    Kurtenbach sees his job as an insurance agent as more than a handshake and a promise to take care of people when they need it.
    “To have my name on that sign and their policies means a lot,” he said. “I take it seriously because it’s my commitment to that person. When they need me, I’ll be there. It’s a big responsibility that I’ve seen come into play thousands of times. Whether it’s a house fire or a fender-bender at the grocery store, I have the opportunity to meet with people when they’re at their best and be there for them when they are at their worst.”
    “When I first started in Gibson City, I didn’t know anybody. Now some of my best friends live in Gibson City. So, that’s what is kind of unique about starting here in Fairbury, I already have a lot of connections through past friends and community members. Now I get to be their agent and friend and kind of build on that.”
    While some insurance companies market themselves on having a website that is easy to navigate, or low insurance rates, or local representatives, Kurtenbach said State Farm is unique because it balances all three strategies.
    “If you like going to the Internet and getting a quote you can still do that, but if you always want to talk to an agent, I’m going to be here for that, too,” Kurtenbach said. “So you get the best of both worlds with us, which is more than some of the other big companies can claim.
    “The old saying is, ‘when you find a job you love to do, you’ll never work again’ and that’s how I feel. I don’t feel like I go to work every day. I feel like I come in, have conversations with people and help them protect what’s most important. That’s why I love this job, it doesn’t feel like work.”
    In addition to himself, Kurtenbach has hired two agent staff members to work in the Fairbury office, Vicki (Ely) Phillips, of Fairbury, and Lacey Greil of Colfax. He also plans to hire one more staff member in the future. Kurtenbach also has four staff members that he oversees in Gibson City.
    “It’s not just me, but our whole team that can help you out,” Kurtenbach said. “Whatever the case may be.”