Davis Gurley Stribling had a stubborn streak, and his willingness to work for nothing more than a hundred years ago laid the foundation for Waco-based Insurors Indemnity Companies, with headquarters downtown.
Baylor University has noticed, and the company led today by longtime businessman Tom Chase won a Texas Family Business Award during recent ceremonies. The company, which occupies the former Southwest Drug building on Fifth Street it restored more than a decade ago, underwrites insurance on more than $2 billion in property across five states.
It employs 34 full-time staffers in the building, which also serves as corporate headquarters for a separate but related entity: Insurors of Texas.
Other local agencies that have their policies backed by Insurors include Bailey Insurance and Financial Services, Higginbotham & Associates and Browder General Insurance, according to an Insurors fact sheet.
“We have between 4,000 and 5,000 customers, mostly in Texas but in four other states,” Chase said. “At least 800 are located within the Interstate 35 corridor that stretches from Waco through Bell County and on to San Antonio. We have 330 agents scattered all over the country, probably five or six in Waco. We specialize in providing insurance to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. That represents two-thirds of what we do. The rest involves providing surety bonds for construction projects.”
Chase said Insurors hopes to expand its services to more states next year, including the most populous state in the country, California.
“Seeing all the wildfires in Northern California gave us pause, but it is a lucrative market and I see us following through,” Chase said. “We are targeting the Central Valley, not along the coast, which is a little tougher environment. The state is booming. There may be many businesses leaving, but a lot are going in. The demographics remain good.”
John Francis Marshall opened an insurance agency in about 1900, and shortly thereafter sold the company to his brother, E.W. Marshall, “who was an extensive investor in early local businesses,” according to the company’s website. About 1915, Stribling, Chase’s grandfather, approached Marshall about joining the business. He was fresh out of Baylor University, and Marshall rejected his overture, Chase said.
“Shortly thereafter, while Marshall vacationed in Europe, Stribling began working in his office without pay,” according to the website. “Upon his return, Marshall reiterated that he had not hired Stribling and would not pay him. Mr. Stribling replied that Mr. Marshall was indeed correct, but that he would soon prove his worth to the firm. In 1923, Mr. Stribling became a partner with Mr. Marshall and in 1930 became the sole owner.”
The company in the 1940s was insuring many of Waco’s larger companies, including William Cameron & Co., Southwestern Drug Corp., then based in Dallas, and the Crawford Austin Manufacturing Co. It later adopted the name Stribling Insurance Agency, and Thomas Stribling, Chase’s father, became a partner in 1947 after he graduated from Harvard Business School.
Chase became president in 1980, and in subsequent years, through a series of acquisitions and mergers, the company became Insurors of Texas.
In 1998, the Independent Insurance Agents of America selected Insurors as the “Best in the Nation” from among the top 180 agencies of its size participating in its Best Practices study. In July 2014, Dave Talbert was named president with a mandate to expand the company into the western United States.
Other Waco-area winners of 2018 Texas Family Business awards include:
- Mattson Financial Services, founded by brothers Blake, Brian and Brent Mattson, all Baylor graduates, which received the “fastest growing” award. Blake Mattson said the service now provides financial advice and services to more than 6,000 clients. Most are 55 years old or older, prefer conservative investments, and want help creating rollover accounts.
- Barsh Fitness & Holistic Nutrition, of Aquilla, received the “new family business” award, according to a Baylor University press release.
- Richardson-based Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors, which bought the former Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors location at Valley Mills and Waco drives, was honored as the “small business” award winner for companies with fewer than 50 employees. It reported 39 employees at offices all over the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and in Waco. It also has 625 agents, but they are classified as independent contractors by the Internal Revenue Service, Institute for Family Business William Worthington said.
Baylor chose 16 businesses around the state to receive Family Business Awards this year, the 29th year of the competition.