COLUMBUS — Though Galloway-Chandler-McKinney Insurance Inc. can trace its history back more than 80-plus years, it is still in a growth mode. A recent move into larger headquarters in downtown Columbus is evidence of this growth, and now the agency is eyeing expansion outside of Mississippi.
When asked if his expectations for the agency had been exceeded, president James C. “Jimmy” Galloway answered modestly, “Well, you dream about it, anticipate it, plan for it. A lot of our growth is due to market conditions.”
Galloway gave a loin’s share of Galloway-Chandler-McKinney’s success to the agency’s employees. According to vice president Philip Wilson, the average length of tenure is an impressive 19 years. One employee recently retired after 40 years of service. Both Galloway and Wilson said employee retention has led to Galloway-Chandler-McKinney’s real secret to success.
“We have extremely loyal customers, and have built long-term relationships,” Wilson said. “Our focus has always been on local, quality service and community involvement.”
When asked to what he attributes Galloway-Chandler-McKinney’s employee retention, Galloway answered simply “mutual respect.”
The Galloway-Chandler-McKinney story actually begins in 1920 with Kyle Chandler Insurance. That agency served the insurance needs of West Point and the Golden Triangle as a whole for more than 70 years when James C. “Jimmy” Galloway came calling.
Galloway was born in Kosciusko, but moved to Columbus in his early years. He would go on to Mississippi State University, earning a degree in chemistry. Galloway subsequently went to work with Dick Wiggers in the early 1980s, creating Galloway-Wiggers Insurance Agency.
Galloway-Chandler-McKinney was formed when Galloway-Wiggers merged with Kyle Chandler Insurance.
Today, principal Kyle Chandler III represents the second generation of Chandlers associated with the agency. The other principals include Galloway, Steven L. McKinney, Jack Campbell and Pat Colwick.
Expansions and acquisitions have been common place ever since. In April 1994, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney opened an office in Amory in conjunction with Campbell. Four years later, the agency purchased Napier Insurance Agency of Aberdeen, which had been serving that community since 1949.
Then in September 1999, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cadence Bank, N.A. In short order, Cadence acquired Heritage Insurance Agency of Starkville, which was established in 1985. Cadence purchased Heritage as part of Galloway-Chandler-McKinney, allowing the agency to expand its services into the Starkville area.
Today, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney offers personal coverage (homeowners, automobile, umbrella liability, boats/yachts and valuable property), business coverage (commercial property, commercial general liability, equipment and inland marine, business automobile/trucking, workers’ compensation, commercial umbrella and bonding) and financial services (life insurance, group and individual health policies, group and individual retirement plans, long-term care and long- and short-term disability).
Galloway-Chandler-McKinney may have five offices in the Golden Triangle, but it certainly is not limited to that region. It has many clients domiciled outside Mississippi. Business clients run the gamut from small concerns to large manufacturers, and commercial business makes up approximately 70% of the agency’s revenues.
Agency-wide, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney employs more than 40 associates. In fact, the agency has gained so many employees that it began running out of elbow room in Columbus this year.
That was rectified last summer. In August, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney moved from its Commerce Street office to a pre-existing facility on Main Street in downtown Columbus. Once housing a savings and loan that was purchased by Cadence, the building that was erected in the 1990s offers 15,000 square feet of space.
“This is not a facility that would typically house an insurance agency,” Galloway said. “It’s very large, and would have been too expensive.”
Wilson was instrumental in developing the design of the new Main Street office. Very little renovations were required — the removal of the former teller’s row was the only significant change. However, that reconfiguration now allows Galloway-Chandler-McKinney’s customer service personnel to work in close proximity to producers, making for a more efficient workflow on the first floor. (The Main Street location encompasses three stories, with Galloway-Chandler-McKinney occupying the lower two floors.)
Also, life and health was moved upstairs. This allowed Galloway-Chandler-McKinney to move sensitive records to a more secure, less frequented area.
Odds are, more client records are on the way. Since affiliating with Cadence, Galloway-Chandler-McKinney has created a presence wherever Cadence has a footprint. Cadence has offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, and just this month completed the acquisition of Seasons Bancshares Inc., marking the financial institution’s debut in Georgia.
Thus, for the first time Galloway-Chandler-McKinney is casting its eyes outside the Magnolia State for new markets. Both Wilson and Galloway said the agency would be highly selective in any future acquisition-merger activity, and added that being a subsidiary of Cadence gave the agency a capital base for acquisitions.
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at email@example.com.