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As a first-generation Mexican-American, 31-year-old Leticia Marino lives a life that is all too familiar in Texas. A daughter of two young immigrants who relocated from Mexico more than 30 years ago, Marino will be doing her part to bridge a common business gap when she opens Brightway, The Marino Agency insurance office Tuesday.
Born and raised just minutes away from Downtown Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, the Katy High School alum says there are many instances of industries that state their support of local small business owners, but may take advantage of them because they can’t speak English well.
“When I was first learning about insurance, I quickly realized there were things that could be better for my dad’s business,” Marino said of her father’s construction company. “I found he was paying for certain items that should’ve been free of charge. However, because he didn’t speak English fluently, there was no way for him to be aware of it.” Today, nearly seven million Texans, and 38 million Americans, speak Spanish as their primary language.
Due to language barriers and lack of available information, many small business owners in areas dominated by immigrants are dependent on the honesty of professional specialists like Marino. “My parents are good, down-to-Earth and hard-working people. They deserve fair treatment when it comes to business, just like any other entrepreneur; regardless of the language they speak.”
Marino’s parents moved to the United States before she was born. For more than 20 years, her father, Alfonso, has owned and operated Marino’s Construction Clean-Up Services and her mother, Letty, has been a career-long Pre-K bilingual educator in Katy ISD.
“Persevering and dedicated families are the foundation of our Hispanic communities,” Marino added. “After getting to know so many of our local business owners, I learned that they were at a huge disadvantage. In some cases, many felt they had been overpaying for goods or purchasing unnecessary services. We must do better.”
During her seven-year insurance career, Marino has specialized in selling health, life, property and casualty coverage, as well as educating her community on their importance.
“I had just come home from college when our family’s insurance agent was there for a visit,” Marino said. “I was very interested in the field. She said they were looking for a bilingual specialist. That’s where it all started for me.”
Marino says her family’s immigrant story is one many Texans know all too well. “My mom and dad came to the U.S. hoping for a better life; for them and my siblings,” Marino said. “They have always believed that doing good work and helping others would eventually lead to the right things happening. I believe in that, too. So, I’m going to do my part and strive to be a pillar of our community, like my parents.”
Brightway, The Marino Agency offers customized Home, Flood, Auto, Boat, Condo, Renters, Personal Articles, RV, Motorcycle, Umbrella, and Life insurance policies from numerous insurance companies. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and Saturday/Sunday by appointment. Visit Marino at her office at 5614 1st Street in Katy, online at BrightwayMarino.com or call 281-817-4540.
Brightway’s corporate office staff provides expertise and support in areas including customer service, technology, accounting, marketing, distribution and business analytics. In addition, Brightway handles carrier relations and appointments, as well as support with personnel hiring, licensing, onboarding, training and retention. The company’s signature after-the-sale service empowers Agency Owners, like Marino, to focus on new business sales and provide customers the personalized service they deserve.
About Brightway Insurance
Established in 2008, Brightway grew to become one of the largest privately-owned property/casualty insurance distribution companies in the U.S. with over 300 franchises in 30 states and over $900 million in annual premiums. Recently, Brightway’s success led to a private equity investment that has infused the company with financial and human capital, and data and analytics access, to accelerate growth and deliver new and exciting market opportunities.
Brightway produces winning outcomes for franchisees and their customers by offering access to customized coverage solutions from a range of insurers paired with full back office and marketing support. This winning model allows agents and producers to focus on addressing the needs of their customers to become trusted advisors and grow their businesses.