Smith Insurance Expands into Hartford City
By Danny K Careins
NT Managing Editor
After months of consideration, Angela Smith has decided to expand her insurance business into Hartford City. It will be located at 1603 N. Walnut St, the former home most recently to Hearts with Integrity.
Smith, who has owned and operated Smith Insurance Services in Montpelier since April 1999, said the reason for the expansion is twofold.
"I have been considering it for months as we were in need of both a conference room and additional staff," noted Smith, whose Montpelier office is located at 115 S. Main St.
Smith explained that due to Smith Insurance Services specialty of commercial lines and group benefits business she needed a conference room. She added that the new location will provide for a conference room because basically the business currently does not have enough space.
"Our Montpelier office does not have the room to host group meetings," said Smith.
"In addition, we do have a strong presence in both Montpelier and Hartford City," noted Smith. "Having two separate offices will allow us to serve our clients more conveniently, have room large enough for groups, as well as additional staff."
Opening of the Hartford City location will be on Monday, Nov. 21.
Smith has hired Jim and Pam Weiseman and Rita Bell, who are currently in training, to work at the new office. She added this will bring the total number of employees at Smith Insurance Services to nine.
"Our office staff here in Montpelier will be going over to the Hartford City office on a rotating basis to work," said Smith. She indicated that there will be a benefit to having an office in Hartford City because she and the other staff members from Montpelier were having to make several trips back and forth to service their clients.
"All three of the new employees are excited about being part of our industry," noted Smith. "In a tough economy that affects all industries, additional staff and room will allow our office to continue to grow by reaching out to additional clients, serving our existing clients with new products and new ideas.
"At different times of the year, we focus on different segments of our business," explained Smith. "This time of year, we are working with a lot of retirees and seniors on planning, Medicare and how it works for them.
"We look forward to inviting small groups in and bringing in other resources to benefit them," said Smith. "Now, I am sending them to an elder law attorney, funeral directors for preplanning, etc.
"It will be more convenient for all if we can do most of it out of one office," she added.
During winter months, the Smith Insurance Services staff is looking forward to working with farmers and bringing them in as a small group and discuss crop hail coverage, farmowners plans, retirement plans, etc., according to Smith.
"A lot of individuals come in just to have us explain the basics when it comes to homes, autos, life and health insurance," noted Smith, who did a senior seminar up in Roanoke last week. "I have always found a need for those seminars in our community. Time, space and staffing has not always allowed me to meet all those needs."
When Smith opened her office in Montpelier there were only two employees.
"There were two of us, myself and Diana Ball," said Smith. "I hired an additional part-time person within a few months of opening. Currently, there are six of us in this office with combined insurance experience of over fifty years."
Jim Weiseman has over thirty years of experience in banking. He is recently retired from First Financial Bank.
"His financial experience will serve us well, as banking and insurance often go hand-in-hand," noted Smith.
"Pam has worked for an orthodontist office in Muncie for the past several years as a ''marketing'' individual . . . experience that is hard to find and a talent we are looking forward to using," said Smith. "Rita has spent many years in offices and within the trucking industry, has a strong dedication to seniors and the Blackford County Cancer Support Group, which is the perfect experience for our commercial clients as well as all other lines."
When preparing to open the Hartford City office Smith started looking at the resources available to all employers in Indiana through Work One.
"However, it is vitally important to me in our small community to have people we all know, have relationships with and can trust, especially in this business," noted Smith. "I was hoping to find someone who would meet that criteria with experience with customer service.
"Insurance can be learned, but I believe that personalities and a caring attitude are important when looking for someone to serve your clients," she added.
Smith had worked with Bell as they were both on the Board of Directors of the Blackford County Community Foundation (BCCF) together.
"Rita had mentioned to me she was looking for a job after the first of the year," said Smith. After working with her on the BCCF and with Blackford County Cancer Support Group, I felt she would be a perfect fit.
"I had known Pam for years and knew Jim through his association with Community First, now First Financial Bank," noted Smith. "Jim had recently retired and I had jokingly asked him if he wanted to come back to work. I was pleasantly surprised when he said yes. Once I realized he was serious,I suggested Pam do the same as she wast raveling out of town to work a couple of days per week.
"I am excited about the three of them working together to take care of our clients," said Smith. "Our staff will be ''floating'' back and forth on a rotating basis to assist them."
An open house for the new location will be conducted on Friday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m.
"The majority of our Montpelier and the new Hartford City staff will be on hand to meet and greet guests, as well as existing clients," noted Smith. "I want to extend an invitation to all to stop by and visit us."