For more than 50 years Daryl Baker has been making sure his clients, his friends and his community have been protected from life’s inevitable mishaps. As owner of Charlotte Insurance Agency for the past 50 years, building those relationships and carrying that responsibility is a very difficult thing from which to walk away.

That transition, however, is underway. Charlotte Insurance welcomed two new members into its ownership group — Charla Parkinson and Brian Lautzenheiser have joined Steven Whitinger as part owners of the agency.

“It’s one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, to be phasing out of the business,” Daryl said. “I’m hoping to be here another year at least.”

In fact, Steven, Daryl’s business partner for the past 13 years, can’t really imagine a time when Daryl isn’t walking through that front door.

“Most people would have retired years ago,” Steven said. “But, most people aren’t Daryl.”

Daryl credits Stuart Bearup for giving him his first opportunity in the industry.

“Stuart Bearup was the person who brought me into insurance, was my first mentor, and partner,” he said.

Through that mentorship, Daryl was able to build a solid foundation for his agency over the years through relationships with clients, excellent service and a firm commitment to his community. It was many of those traits that attracted Lautzenheiser, who joined the agency in early June after 12 years with Farm Bureau Insurance.

“It really seemed like the best fit, especially with the legacy this family and this agency has built,” Brian said. “It seemed like a great place to grow the next chapter of my career.”

Daryl and Steven had been gauging Brian’s interest in joining their agency for more than a year. Daryl took notice of Brian’s strong family values and commitment to his community, and knew he was the right fit.

Adding Charla — Daryl’s daughter — the ownership group helped establish a strong team, and gave Daryl the confidence to know the future of the agency was in good hands.

“This is one of the best groups we’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s very cohesive, and everyone gets along well, which is what it’s all about.”

Charla has been with the agency for 30 years and is considered one of the most knowledgeable team members in all aspects of the business.

“She has a lot of experience in everything we do,” Daryl said. “She has been great, serving this agency well. I certainly had to make sure she was included.”

Charla said she is ready to continue the legacy her father built.

“It’s going to be a big change,” she said. “I’m up for the challenge.”

As an independent agency, Charlotte Insurance has been able to take on challenges facing the industry and meet the needs of its clients through its flexibility in working with several quality insurance companies.

“The insurance industry is extremely competitive,” Steven said. “No one company can do everything, so it’s a real advantage to us because we can offer a variety of services through different companies.”

The appeal of an independent agency was also an attraction for Brian.

“It gives you confidence to know that you can help your client one way or another,” Brian said.

With offices in Charlotte and Olivet, Charlotte Insurance Agency offers the gamut of insurance products — auto, motorcycle, RV, ATV, boat, home, business, bonds, life, and group and individual health plans. Visit Charlotte Insurance Agency in Charlotte at 313 Lansing Street (517-543-0560), or Olivet at 106 N. Main Street (269-749-2611), or visit