Steve Hall (ALEX STAFFORD) - "I was sent to teach other Marines how to deal with chemical warfare."

At Manatee High School in the 1980s, Steve Hall never imagined he would end up in the insurance business. Hall, 44, served three years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist before finding his professional niche in sales. Today he is president of the Alltrust Insurance Gulf Coast market, an independent insurance agency specializing in group health insurance and other employee benefits. He is the first broker in the firm’s 20-year history to exceed goal his first full year as a broker. (The goal was $100,000 and he sold about $140,000.)

How’s business?

Really good. We just had the best first quarter in the company’s history. We serve about 450 companies, which represent 22,000 people all over Florida, with the majority in the Tampa Bay area, including the Bradenton Yacht Club, MarineMax and the city of Palmetto. Our 2011 annual revenues were $4.7 million.

How did you become a chemical warfare specialist?

The most horrific thing in boot camp is learning to use field protective gear. As part of the exercise, you open this door and this stuff comes billowing out. It is like a riot control agent, and it penetrates your clothes and everything. It was a nightmare. So when I was told they wanted me to teach nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, I did everything I could to not cry. But after three months learning the basics at a school in Huntsville, Ala., I was sent to a Marine base in Hawaii to teach other Marines how to use gas masks, [measure] nuclear fallout and deal with chemical warfare. I was there from 1987 to 1990. It turned out to be a great experience and helped me become comfortable talking in front of people.

Best part of your job?

Developing relationships.

What don’t you do well?

Don’t ask me to proofread a document. I go from the first sentence to the fourth to the seventh and then I am done.

Your favorite book?

Endless Referrals by Bob Burg.

It was a gift from my wife.

What don’t people know about you?

I paddled 43 miles in a six-man outrigger canoe contest in Hawaii, from Molokai to Waikiki. My team placed third in 1994 and second in 1995.

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