An insurance company that has been on the move in DeSoto County for close to 60 years has been back on the move, literally, and now serving at a new location.
SouthGroup Insurance, which was started with Winn Brown and Wilbur Stevens as an agency in Horn Lake in 1961, has moved from a Goodman Road location in Southaven to its new offices at 5740 Getwell Road in Southaven.
Today, Sarah Edmiston serves the DeSoto County agency as President and Davy Hunt is Vice President for the firm, one of several SouthGroup Insurance locations, headquartered in Ridgeland, that are situated across the state of Mississippi.
Thursday, June 14, SouthGroup will welcome the public to its Open House event, starting at 2:30 p.m., at the office it has been at since April.
SouthGroup in DeSoto County has roots dating back to the early sixties, Hunt said.
“It was started in 1961 when Winn Brown and Wilbur Stevens started an agency in Horn Lake,” said Hunt. “It became Brown & Caldwell in the 1970s. Rex Haynes bought into the agency and it became Brown & Haynes in 1980.”
Hunt added that when Brown, the first mayor of Horn Lake, retired in 1993, Edmiston became a partner and in 2005, the agency became part of SouthGroup Insurance.
Edmiston, who has also worked with a couple of other agencies before she joined Brown & Haynes, has been a part of the DeSoto County insurance scene for several years.
“I’ve been here since 1985, so I’ve been here 33 years,” said Edmiston. “I’ve lived in DeSoto County since 1982. I’ve been doing it (insurance) for close to 40 years and I love my job, I love helping people and it’s a great opportunity for a person like me.”
For Hunt, a native of Clarksdale and who actually operated his own agency as part of his insurance career, he was brought to SouthGroup by Haynes before his untimely passing in January 2017.
“Rex hired me to be his retirement plan,” Hunt said. “I was going to work here for five years and then he was going to retire and I was going to take over for him. He passed away within a year after that. The opportunity to work with people and do something different every day is what I like about this.”
Hunt’s background also includes working with other companies and bank insurance agencies before he opened Hunt Insurance during the financial crisis of 2009, an agency he continued before joining SouthGroup in 2016.
The move from Goodman Road to the Getwell Road office is part of an effort to stay in the center of DeSoto County.
“Where the old location was pretty much was the center of Southaven,” Hunt said. “We have several insurance agencies, attorneys, banks around us here on Getwell. It seems to be almost a little financial district here now. I think it’s where we need to be,” with Edmiston adding, “We were wanting to get off Goodman Road and we had been talking about that. We also wanted to be more centralized for the county, not necessarily for Southaven but for the county.”
SouthGroup specializes in commercial and employee benefits, such as health and life, group dental and that, but also does several personal lines.
Where past practices involved a customer coming in and telling the agent what they wanted, today most insurance “shopping” requires what is called relationship building and the importance of a needs assessment.
“We want to make sure you have the proper coverage that the client needs, not necessarily what they have,” said Edmiston. “In the early days they would come to us. Now we look at the coverage, talk to them about their risk, talk about their needs and talk about what their problems might be.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.