- Bob Ratterman Contributing Writer
Two long-familiar insurance agencies in town are merging to provide expanded service as well as to keep the local feel they have each offered for many years.
Fey Insurance Services, which has a history dating back to 1858, will merge with Beaton Insurance, founded in 1938 and now owned by Holly Bruder, to form Fey Bruder Insurance Advisors LLC. The merger will begin this Friday when Bruder and her staff will move into the Fey building on West Park Place but will maintain their office on West Walnut Street for another month until the merger becomes official Jan. 1.
Both Bruder and Tom Fey said they are excited about the merger because it gives them more insurance offerings for their clients and allows them to keep the connections to the local community they fear would be lost if they sold to large corporations.
Bruder said corporations are buying up smaller agencies across the country and selling would be lucrative, but they prefer to keep the local connections both firms have enjoyed.
For Fey, part of the decision to merge was the result of the death earlier this year of his wife Cathy, who joined the company as an agent in the mid-1980s.
“We are very excited about the merger. It makes us a bigger agency with more companies. Cathy was an integral part and her passing away was huge. We will be doing the same things we’ve done,” he said. “They are all quality companies, which allows us to do a better job for our customers. We are not being gobbled up by a large business. We are excited about it.”
His son, Brian Fey, is part of the firm and has accounts in Cincinnati while living there and working out of the Oxford office. Tom Fey said his daughter, Elizabeth Fey Mundy, works out of her home in Cincinnati as Brian’s customer service representative.
In addition to Bruder, the Beaton agency staff includes Matt Green and Michelle Garrett, all of them licensed casualty agents.
Bruder said the merger will expand their combined insurance offerings to better serve customers. She called the Oxford insurance climate competitive and said this will expand their customers’ options.
They will now have seven insurance companies to draw from in offering local service.
“It’s just easier with a larger staff. We have one company we both serve. I have three others and so does he,” she said. “It’s a nice mix of companies.”
Both currently offer Progressive Insurance products while Fey brings an association with Safeco (part of Liberty Mutual), Liberty Mutual itself and Travelers. The Beaton agency also deals with State Auto, Auto Owners and Buckeye Insurance Group.
Bruder said she worked with Brian Fey several years ago on the Oxford Chamber of Commerce board of directors and that helped make the merger more comfortable as she got more familiar with the Fey firm.
“I know Brian since we served together. We both have a very similar business philosophy. Our clientele is similar. They have a focus on Cincinnati with Brian down there. I’m involved up here with kids in school,” she said. “In my opinion, there was no reason not to do it. We’ll have more markets. They’ll have more markets.”
The roots of the Fey agency go back to 1858 until it eventually became the Frazier-Fey agency, then being bought out by Ralph Fey in 1958. Tom Fey joined his father in the R.N. Fey agency after Army service in Vietnam in 1971 and his brother Doug joined in 1974. Ralph Fey died in January 1989 and Doug died in September 2013.
Brian Fey joined the agency in 2003 after his 2000 Miami graduation.
The Beaton agency was founded in 1938 by James “Harry” Beaton and he operated it until his death in 1964. His son, John “Jack” Beaton operated it until 1991 when he sold it to his son, Jim Beaton, who operated it until his death.
Bruder purchased the agency from the Beaton family in 2007.
Brian Fey, the fourth generation of his family to be an insurance agent, sees the merger as a good move forward for the two firms and looks ahead to being able to provide solid service to customers.
“It’s fun to see two long-time agencies come together. Holly and I have been talking for three of four years, working for the Chamber for a time. There is good synergy,” he said. “The insurance industry is seeing a lot of mergers. It’s something I thought would eventually happen. It’s good to do it on our own terms.”