By Deb Malewski
— The insurance business has a long history in downtown Eaton Rapids, starting in 1958 with Walter Bearman. In 1990, Bearman sold his business to the Terry and Cindy Smith family, and it became the Smith-Bearman Agency. In 2010, Mark Kitsmiller purchased it, and the business became the Smith-Kitsmiller Agency.
Smith-Kitsmiller is an independent insurance agency, Kitsmiller explained. This means that they represent many different companies, over two dozen, in order to offer multiple options to suit a customer’s insurance needs. This enables them to do the shopping around within their family of companies to find the best quotes, rather than having to refer someone elsewhere.
He said Smith-Kitsmiller can offer an assessment of customers’ insurance needs and present a choice of packages that best suits those needs and can offer the best coverage at competitive rates. They service clients in the Eaton Rapids area and surrounding communities.
Northern Mutual Insurance, based out of Hancock, Mich., recently chose Smith-Kitsmiller as one of only eight agents in the lower peninsula to represent their agency. Liberty Mutual also came on board with Smith-Kitsmiller recently, which created an upswing in writing up policies for several farms in the area.
A customer service feature that Smith-Kitsmiller is proud of is their hometown connection with Eaton Rapids.
“We know the town and know the people who live here,” Kitsmiller said.
Jeff Smith, an agent, has been with them for 33 years, and his sister, Stacia Smith-Temple, who is the office manager, has been there for 29 years. Annette Adams serves as a file clerk for the agency.
“We love servicing our small town and community,” Smith-Temple said.
The agency is also known for its front window displays for every holiday and special occasion. They’ve won top honors for “best window display” at Eaton Rapids Air multiple times. The staff prepare elaborate displays, sometimes incorporating lights and video, and those passing by stop to check it out.
“It’s a fun way to connect with the town,” Kitsmiller explains. “People stop in just to comment on what they see and like.”
Another draw for the office, Kitsmiller said, is Tucker, the Shih Tzu dog.
“Sometimes the people who come through the door aren’t there to do business but just to see and pet the dog.”
Smith-Kitsmiller is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on the weekends. The business phone number is 517-663-1456. The website is smithkitsmillerins.com.