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Barksdale: Name change won’t alter business

Regions Bank acquired bonding and insurance company in Jan. 2008

The name may have changed but the company formerly known as Barksdale Bonding & Insurance will operate the same.

A long-time presence on the Jackson business scene, Barksdale officially became Regions Insurance on May 17.

Regions acquired Barksdale Bonding & Insurance in January 2008.

Along with the change of its name, the multi-line insurance agency has moved to Ridgeland’s Colony Park, which houses several Regions corporate offices.

All of Barksdale offices, including those in Nashville and Troy, Alabama, will now operate under the Regions Insurance banner.

“We’re looking forward to capitalizing on Regions Bank’s name in Mississippi and becoming part of a great institution,” said Charles Porter, a former Barksdale principal owner and now CEO of Regions Insurance’s Mississippi operations.  “(Regions) share of the market is far-reaching and a great opportunity for the company.

“It’s pretty much business as usual.”

Regions Insurance vice-president Gabe Gibbs concurs with Porter.  Gibbs, who joined Barksdale as a principal in 1983, says Regions’ acquiring the firm and the name change has been a win-win situation for everyone.

Initially, there was some mild opposition from some at Barksdale, he said.

“We had some misgivings in the beginning,” Gibbs said.  “The company had operated so long with the Barksdale name and it was a big change.  But being a part of the Regions family with access to a depth of resources has been beneficial to our employees and clients.”

Regions Financial Corporation is a member of the S&P 100 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, securities brokerage and insurance products and services.  The company lists $142 billion in assets.

Curren Coco, head of Regions Financial insurance division, says the name change was important.

“Now, we can operate as a team under the same Regions Insurance name and banner and more seamlessly align with our affiliate Regions companies to provide our clients with solutions to all their insurance and financial needs,” he said.  “It is an exciting time in the life of our company.”

A native of Meridian, Porter joined Barksdale in 1976 and was promoted to president in 1983.  Seven of the company’s eight owners remain with the firm, Porter says, and long-time customers can expect the same detailed service – with a caveat.

“While our name is changing, our home is in Jackson, and who we are and what we do is still the same,” he said.  “Being a part of Regions has expanded the expertise and options that we can provide for clients.”

Founded in 1933, Barksdale Bonding & Insurance maintained a diverse client base, with a heavy concentration in the Southeast.  In business for more than 75 years, the company was Mississippi’s largest broker for commercial transportation, as well as agricultural and general aviation.

Barksdale also was one of the state’s largest group health brokerages.

Gibbs says Regions executives emphasized that the bank wouldn’t change Barksdale’s client-oriented company culture that had been cultivated since the Depression.

“Our instructions from Regions were that we were to continue as we were,” he said.

According to Porter, selling the company to Regions Insurance, and the subsequent name change, was a no-brainer.

“The thought process of all the (former Barksdale) owners was, if there is a better opportunity to provide a better situation for employees and clients, then we should do it,” he said.  “Regions has offices throughout the Southeast which has allowed us to expand our territory.”

One of Barksdale’s strongest advantages, according to Porter, was an expertise in niche markets that other insurance agencies couldn’t match.  Those markets include high-risk businesses such as crop dusting and fleet trucking.

“They need an insurer who understands the unique risks involved in that business,” he said.  “Our specialty was taking the time to research not only the insurance products out there, but also ways to minimize the risk in the first place.  This will continue under the Regions Insurance name.”

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