Editor’s Note: The second story in a series about businesses along Gallatin Street in downtown Vandalia features McKellar, Robertson, McCarty & Click Insurance.
Don McKellar officially established the D.T. McKellar Insurance Agency in Vandalia. That business has grown and prospered for many decades, relying on its reputation of fairness and integrity, and the loyalty of its satisfied customers and friends.
The business was originally on the second floor of the Mark Greer Building, at the northwest corner of Fifth and Gallatin streets, and was initially a family affair, with Don’s son, Todd McKellar, joining the agency in 1957, after college and service in the Navy.
Don’s father and Todd’s grandfather, A.S. McKellar, actually took the family’s first steps into the insurance business in 1921. Thus, three generations of McKellars have established a reputation of long-standing respect and fairness in their dealings in virtually every aspect of insurance.
Their efforts and ability to provide the best coverage for each individual has gained them many loyal customers over the years and has largely contributed to their longevity in an ever-increasing competitive business.
Changes, Acquirements, Growth and New Faces
A young, personable man, the late L. Delmar Robertson, a classmate of Todd’s at Vandalia Community High School, returned from the military service and appeared on the insurance scene when he joined the Louie Squibb Insurance Agency in Vandalia in 1959.
In 1967, the D.T. McKellar Agency acquired the Luster Agency in Ramsey, and nine years later, in 1976, acquired the Garland Troxell Agency in Vandalia.
The same year, Robertson bought the Louis Squibb Insurance Agency. Two years later, he bought Vandalia Real Estate and Insurance Agency, and the D.T. McKellar Agency acquired the Lawler Agency in Ramsey.
Enter Thomas McCarty…
Also in 1978, Thomas McCarty joined the William G. Boles Agency in St. Elmo, which acquired the J.D. Johnson Insurance Agency in St. Elmo the following year.
A Merger Unites…
The memorable year was 1984, when the D.T. McKellar Agency, Louie Squibb Agency, and William Boles Agency merged, forming the McKellar, Robertson, Peck and McCarty Agency.
Patrick Click Comes Aboard…
In 1999, when the agency had the name McKellar, Robertson and McCarty, Patrick Click joined the team.
And a New Name is Added…
In 2001, the firm’s name was changed to the McKellar, Robertson, McCarty and Click Insurance Agency LTD., and still growing, the firm purchased the Dycus & Gochenour Agency from Mike Hall, which included Victor Leach Insurance.
The Heart of the Business – The People
• Todd McKellar is the picture of dignity and sincerity, which is reassuring to a potential customer, but converses and smiles easily. Having grown up in the community and the insurance business, he has a first-hand knowledge of the area and insurance needs. He has followed in his father’s footsteps of providing for those needs in coverage, availability and affordability.
He said that he “kind of started at the bottom” when he began working with his father.
“I felt I needed to earn a spot, and I worked a couple of summers doing tasks for my dad, and selling a few policies,” he said.
“My wife was a teacher and had a salary, and back then, it didn’t take as much (to live). She made more than I did the first couple of years.
“I was probably more inclined to (handle) auto insurance. My father liked life insurance and that was strictly what he did. With life insurance, you have to talk to a lot people to get prospects, and he was exceptionally good at that – better than I, I have to admit that.
“I specialized in fire and casualty, so it worked out.”
Todd’s father passed away in 1971. “I was in the old Mark Greer building and it was getting a little lonely up there, because people (other tenants) were starting to leave. I didn’t think it was so bad, because I grew up with it, but a field agent said, ‘You need another office in a different place.’
So he moved, to the north end of town on Fifth Street. “It was a little scary moving from downtown,” he said.
Then, the agency moved back downtown, into the building that once held Sonnemon Lumber and is now the home of the National Road Interpretive Center. In 1994, the firm moved to its present location, 500 W. Gallatin St.
• Tom McCarty is the son of Jim and JoAnn McCarty, who are both well-known and respected as former business owners and operators in downtown Vandalia. His brother, Ed, owns McCarty’s Auto Body & Towing.
Tom’s friendly smile and considerable experience in the insurance needs of the area serves the St. Elmo office and residents well.
He, too, has had a lot of experience over the years. He attended college and worked in an adjustment company for several years. “I didn’t make a lot of money, but I was fortunate; like Todd, my wife worked,” he said. “If it hadn’t been for her, I probably wouldn’t have been able to hang on, but she had a good job and I had a part-time job adjusting claims.
“I bought a little insurance agency in 1979.”
• Patrick “Pat” Click has an engaging smile and personality, and inspires well-deserved confidence in his ability to serve his clients in coverage of their insurance needs.
Pat brought with him knowledge and experience in the insurance business. He was just out of college when he began selling insurance for another well-known agency. After 3½ years, he moved to another company, staying there for five years.
“Then these guys talked to me about the opportunity of joining them. I did, and I haven’t looked back since.
“Of course, Delmar (along with McKellar and McCarty) made three wonderful partners, and now I still have two wonderful partners. I couldn’t ask for a better partnership,” he said.
“I don’t think any of us have ever raised a voice. We have always gotten along really well. We all have a little different walk of life outside of the office. We all go to different churches, but we all believe in the same core of things,” he said.
They also spoke of others who had been involved in the agency over the years in a respectful fashion.
The Bottom Line
All are attentive and strive to meet their customers’ individual needs.
Click said, “We all run in a little bit different circles, but we all have the common denominator of community service.”
The combined community service list of Fayette County is impressive and indicative of the partners’ commitment to the community. The list includes serving on boards and other capacities over the years: Vandalia Rotary Club, Vandalia Optimist Club, Vandalia City Council, First National Bank Board of Directors, Habitat for Humanity, Ramsey Community School District, Vandalia School District, Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, Friends and Families of the Fayette County Hospital, SAFE, Farmers & Merchants Bank Board of Directors, Vandalia Jaycees, Evans Public Library District, YMCA Board of Fayette County, Vandalia Police Pension Board, St. Elmo Business Association and Vandalia Main Street.
They feel they need to give back to the community and county. As Todd pointed out, the difference in ages has allowed continuance of years and areas of service.
Although Todd is “the boss,” he feels confident in his partners. “I have the best of two worlds,” he said. “I can still have a place to work and I really like the guys.” He feels like he can pass on duties to them, and feel confident and trust in their abilities to carry on.
Another common denominator is that all three men love the insurance business, although they admit, it is not for everybody.
They also gave credit to their office staff. “We are blessed with a good office staff,” Click said.
Together, the experience of the three current partners adds up to 100 years. Working for an agency that has been in business for 90 years should set some kind of record.
The changes over the years have included many changes in coverage, training requirements, and rules and regulations, but still, the most important ingredient in longevity in the insurance business should be integrity, fairness, caring, and knowing and providing the needs of the individuals served, as the name of McKellar and the MRM&C agency continues to represent.