Limestone Agency, 175, shares secrets of longevity

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Limestone Agency celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. The oldest independent insurance agency in Kentucky, it was founded by William Hoffman as the Hoffman Insurance Agency in downtown Mt. Sterling in 1847.

Today, Limestone is a local independent agency backed by Keystone Insurers Group. It proudly offers personal insurance, business insurance, agricultural insurance, life and health insurance and employee benefits with a local and local touch. The agency is led by the founder’s great-great-grandson, J. Miller Hoffman (pictured right), and his business partner, Ray Robertson (pictured left).

“Limestone is truly an institution,” said Robertson, who specializes in personal and business lines. A native of Bethel, Kentucky, Robertson has worked in the insurance industry for over 36 years. Even before joining Limestone in 1993, he already had a personal connection to the agency.

“I grew up on a farm about 15 miles from here. My parents were insured with Lewis Greene, an agency that merged with Hoffman [Insurance Agency]“, shared Robertson.

Robertson eventually purchased Greene’s stake in the agency, while a third shareholder sold his stake to Robertson and Hoffman. The partners formed Hoffman-Robertson, Inc. in 2006. Two years later, a merger with the McClure-Hill-Case agency in Paris, Kentucky was finalized, creating a new entity: Limestone Agency.

‘No account too small’

A small operation allows Limestone to fully customize its services and take care of its customers as they wish. “We try to be empathetic. No account is too small because it is not small in [the client’s] the eyes. You never know, with a small account, what it might become,” Hoffman said.

Over the years, the agency has nurtured long-lasting relationships with local businesses as they pursue their mission to help protect their community through comprehensive insurance coverage and superior customer service.

“An account we recently renewed is a business that started with two guys and a van. We’ve had this relationship for 21 years. It’s now one of our best accounts,” Robertson explained. competition, but he stayed with us even though we charged a higher price because he knew he could trust our service. He knew we gave him good advice and he likes the people he deals with at our agency.

Another key to Limestone’s success is its people. Between two locations – downtown Mt. Sterling and downtown Paris – Limestone has an average of 15 employees, many of whom have been employed for more than 10 years. But independent agencies have also been caught up in the insurance industry’s fierce war for talent.

“We have always been lucky with our employees, even though one employee has stayed with us for over 50 years. But that has changed a bit,” Hoffman admitted. “There’s a lot of competition for talent these days, and we lost some good people last year. But we have some new young superstars in training.

Growth in a changing world

For many insurance agencies today, consolidation has been the name of the game. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) have accelerated globally in recent years, with the United States being the main activity in 2021.

But for agencies like Limestone that are deeply rooted in the community, agency consolidation poses a challenge. Small agencies are competing with larger ones that can offer better prices, and insurance buyers are different than they were a few years ago. In a tough market, customers have become increasingly price sensitive.

“We try to be honest and direct with our customers to find the right [insurance] company and coverage. Sometimes they are sold poor quality products or they don’t get the protection they need. People are pinching pennies, and we kinda feel it,” Robertson admitted.

Read more: Global mergers and acquisitions get off to a strong start in 2022 – report

For Hoffman, however, service rooted in care, integrity and empathy will always win loyal customers. “We don’t treat insurance like a commodity. I always say it’s not our job to get you the best price. Our job is to make sure your coverage is correct and then we’ll work out the costs,” he said. insurance company.

But Limestone Agency has no intention of sticking to the past. “We’re on Facebook, we have billboards, we do things that we didn’t do 15 or 20 years ago to keep our name and our image in front of everyone,” Robertson said.

“We are very involved in the insurance market in Kentucky, with the Agents’ Association, as well as with our local communities. I hope we do what it takes to continue to attract business.

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