Jeff Eckburg has been an insurance agent since 1989. A native of Pecatonica, Jeff graduated from Eastern Illinois University where he studied journalism and communications. He joined the Agency upon graduation from college, and is the current President and owner.
Jeff is an active parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church where he sings in the choir and serves as a cantor.
Tyler Pickering was raised in Rockford and attended Guilford High School. He spent four years at the University of Illinois, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science before returning to the Rockford region. Tyler joined the Eckburg team in 2014 servicing commercial accounts, and has become an agent in the time since. Tyler is involved in several local organizations including the Literacy Council, the Irish Marching Society, Rockford Cosmopolitan, Element Rockford, and Rockford Promise.
One of Tyler’s greatest accomplishments as an agent was working with a local non-profit to offer coverage that minimized overhead. The client was grateful to be able to use more of its funds for its cause rather than unnecessary bills.
Carla Towns was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but has been a Rockford resident since the age of eight. She attended Auburn High School and was a member of the CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) and Academy Programs, and attended Rock Valley College after graduating high school. Carla obtained her associate’s degree from Rock Valley College after graduating from Auburn. Carla came to Eckburg in 2014 as a personal lines service agent and moved into the agent role in 2018. When she is not at the office or meeting with clients, Carla gives her time to the Rockford Park District’s Therapeutic Recreation Department.
A client once thanked Carla for helping in the submission of a claim that was not for a policy Eckburg had on file. She is always willing to go the extra mile for the customers of the agency.
Nick Verstraete is a lifelong resident of Rockford and attended Boylan Catholic High School. Nick began working at Eckburg in 2015 while he was still attending Rock Valley College, and has remained with the agency since obtaining his associate’s degree. He began in personal lines as the quotation specialist, but also assisted in the commercial department before moving into the sales agent role. Aside from work, Nick gives his time to the Rockton Lions Club at their annual event, Old Settlers Days. He tries to hit the links whenever he can, too.
Nick has always been helpful and hardworking; one client in particular was so pleased with Nick when he took the time to go out to a property and take pictures when she was unable to do so.
Wanda Oslund is Rockford born and raised and attended East High School. (Go E-Rabs!) She went to Rock Valley college after high school and began working at Eckburg in 1998 as a personal lines customer service agent. She has been here ever since! Wanda and her husband love spending time with the family, and they take trips down to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri to go boating and enjoy nature as often as possible.
Clients tell Wanda she always makes them feel as if she has their best interest in mind and always goes above and beyond to help.
Erin Bloom grew up in Rockford and attended Boylan Catholic High School. She began working at Eckburg in 2007 as a receptionist, and has since moved into commercial and personal lines as a service agent. When she is not busy working with her clients, Erin enjoys spending time with her husband and children.
Erin Mills joined the agency in the personal lines department during the summer of 2018. Erin is a native of Kenosha, Wisconsin, but has been working and living in Rockford for over a decade and earned her degree in Business Management from Rasmussen College here. In her free time, Erin likes to spend time with her daughter outdoors and travel when she can. In addition, she is a volunteer at Christian Life School.
Julie Buelow is originally from Durand, Illinois and attended Durand High School. She joined Eckburg in 1998 as a customer service representative, and now acts as the office manager for the agency. Julie enjoys being outdoors, whether it is gardening, biking, skiing, or hiking. She spends her free time volunteering for her church and the Rockford Rescue Mission. Julie likes being involved with the sports that her son plays, too.
“Customers always appreciate honest answers. I've had situations when offering a quote when it made more sense for the person to stay with their current carrier instead of changing. While reviewing their coverage I offered suggestions for coverage changes to improve their policy and they thanked me because I took the time to review, explain and give my honest opinion even though I didn't take over their policies.”
Michelle Heggemeier is originally from Rockford and attended Boylan Catholic High School. She received her Associate's degree from Rock Valley College before moving on to Northern Illinois University and completing her Bachelor's degree in Finance. Michelle started at Eckburg in 2011 as the receptionist, and has since moved into the commercial department as a service agent.
Heather Bickford grew up in Belvidere and graduated from Rock Valley College. After studying at the University of Maine at Machias, Heather returned to the Rockford area and began working at Eckburg in 2013 as the receptionist. She quickly made her way into working as a commercial lines service agent. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending her free time with her family and volunteering at her son’s school.
Heather loves going above and beyond with her clients, and often meets with them at their place of business to visit and review policies.
Allison Ruffolo is originally from La Grange Park, Illinois and attended Riverside Brookfield High School. She obtained her associate’s degree from the College of DuPage and moved to Rockford in February of 2018 to begin working as the agency’s receptionist, and she quickly moved into the commercial department. Allison likes spending her free time with family and going to sporting events.
Steve Eckburg is a Pecatonica native and graduated from Pecatonica high school. He studied at the University of South Carolina and Illinois State University before returning to Rockford and joining the agency. Steve began working in marketing at Eckburg in 2005 and has since moved into the bookkeeping and operations role.
Rose Hoskins is originally from Loves Park and attended Harlem High School. She joined the agency in 2018 as the receptionist. In her free time, Rose volunteers at Riverside Community Church. She also enjoys being outdoors enjoying nature, hiking, camping, and crafting in her time away from the office.
Ben joined the Agency in May, 2020 after two successful 20 win seasons as a college basketball coach. With limited collegiate coaching opportunities in Northern Illinois near family and friends, the time was right to join his family’s business. Ben is a 2012 graduate of Boylan High School and a 2016 graduate of the University of Wisconsin/Madison. In 2018, he received a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. Ben was part of the Wisconsin men’s basketball program for two Final Four runs during the Bo Ryan era. He was on the training staff for Ryan and served as a graduate student coach for Greg Gard. Ben successfully completed his insurance licensing and has already written many excellent accounts.
Tony joined the Agency in December 2020 after graduating from Rockford University. Tony set records as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of Rockford University. He was 4th in all-time scoring, had the first ever triple double and was a team captain three out of four years. He is a 2015 graduate of Boylan High School and is a lifelong area resident. He is proud of his Italian heritage and enjoys traveling back to Italy to visit his mom’s family. He even speaks a little Italian. Tony serves as an assistant to both the personal lines and the commercial lines team.
Ryan is a Northern Illinois native who has been with the Agency since 2004. His primary specialty is business insurance but he is also an expert in auto and home coverage, particularly with higher valued dwellings.
Ryan and his wife Jamie live in Rochelle and have 3 children. He is an active member of the community—especially with coaching youth sports.
Having been a resident of Belvidere since the age of 4, Ogaliz started her career as the Walker Agency receptionist in 2012. She quickly shifted to a customer service role specializing in auto and home insurance. She now manages both personal and business accounts for the agency. She and her husband Ray have 3 kids and are members of St. James Catholic Church in Belvidere. She speaks fluent Spanish and has been used as a translator since the age of 7. She loves returning to her native Mexico whenever possible.
Susan joined Walker Agency in 2017. Prior to working at Walker, she spent 7 years at Country Financial in Rochelle where she specialized in auto and home insurance, farms, and small commercial accounts. She serves in the same capacity at Walker. Susan and her husband Greg have four daughters. When not at work, she enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her family and friends.
Angie joined Walker in 2017 after spending the previous 15 years at other local agencies. She and her husband Denny have 1 son and all three are graduates of Rochelle Township High School. Angie writes and services both personal lines and commercial polies with a special focus on manufacturing, contractors, and small businesses. She is an active member of Calvary Lutheran Church where she teaches Sunday School.
Maria Hillery joined Eckburg Insurance Group in 2021. She is a native of Belmont, Wisconsin, a farming community located 7 miles west of Platteville. Maria attended college in her home state and was an All American in track and field. She and her husband (her high school sweetheart) moved to Illinois in 2006 where they raised their two daughters. Prior to joining Eckburg, Maria spent 8 years splitting time between a large national insurance company and a local independent insurance agency. In her free time, she loves to spend time outside whether it’s hiking, bicycle riding, roller blading or anything fitness related.