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WARREN Bank company buys insurance agency



Published: Fri, September 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The bank is in the market to buy other small agencies as it grows into the insurance business.

THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

WARREN -- Second Bancorp Inc., parent company of Second National Bank of Warren, is moving into the insurance business with the purchase of a longtime Ashtabula County insurance and financial services agency.

The company said it has completed a stock-for-stock acquisition of all outstanding shares of Stouffer-Herzog Insurance Agency Inc. and Stouffer-Herzog Financial Services Agency Inc.

Based on Lake Avenue in downtown Ashtabula, the company will keep the Stouffer-Herzog name but will operate as a Second Bancorp subsidiary and an affiliate of Second National Bank.

The transaction is effective immediately.

George E. Stouffer Jr. will continue to serve as president of the second-generation insurance agency, and William R. Herzog will continue as executive vice president.

Founded by their fathers in 1956, the company is a leading provider of life, health and property and casualty insurance products in Ashtabula County.

All other agency employees will also remain.

About the acquisition

Second National has an investment center which offers some insurance products, he said, but Stouffer-Herzog is its first insurance agency acquisition.

Rick L. Blossom, Second Bancorp president and chief executive, said the company searched for an agency within its nine-county market area which could serve as a foundation for its growth in the insurance business.

"The agency we were seeking needed a track record of successful operation with proven management and insurance professionals in place and a strong reputation for integrity and community commitment," Blossom said.

Bank officials realized they needed help from insurance professionals to do the job right, said Christopher Stanitz, executive vice president and secretary of Second Bancorp. "We wanted to have the right people to help us grow that business, and we've found them," he said.

Stanitz said the company may add more Stouffer-Herzog offices, but officials are also looking for other small insurance agencies to buy.

"We see this as a foundation for other acquisitions to grow our insurance market," he said.

"We believe we become more efficient the larger we grow. Insurance is just another financial service product we can better use to service our client base, and the theory is that one-stop shopping is where it's at."

With headquarters in Warren, Second Bancorp is a $1.7 billion holding company.

Second National Bank has 37 bank branches in nine Northeast Ohio counties, including four in Ashtabula County.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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