NEWS | November 8, 2011
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – When investor and businessman Harry Logan founded Glenwood Insurance Agency in 1911, he probably wasn’t thinking about the company’s longevity. He sold it eight years later.
But from 1919 to the present, the company has passed through two Glenwood Springs families, and is still owned today by a partnership of families.
Now, 100 years after Logan opened the doors, the Glenwood Insurance Agency is celebrating a century in business.
“I’m proud to carry on the tradition,” said Scott Bolitho, a co-owner and third generation executive in the company. “My grandfather did business with a handshake. That personal touch has carried through to the present.
“We like to do business by establishing a relationship with people. You know in insurance, there’s nothing tangible you’re selling. Everything is built on trust and relationships,” Bolitho said.
“A lot of things have changed over the years, most notably the technology and the regulations on the industry,” said Asa Jones, another co-owner who took over from his brother Pete.
“The foundation for our success has always been our relationships with our customers. One of the benefits of living in and doing business in a town like Glenwood Springs is that we get to know and help so many great families,” Jones said.
“Through good years and bad, our priority has been to treat our customers and our employees like family,” said Nettie Avery, who, along with her husband Bryan, bought a share of the company in 1999.
“That’s one of the reasons we’ve weathered the storms. We’ve helped our customers through the difficult times by proactively meeting with them to find ways to cut their costs without sacrificing their coverage,” Avery said. “When our customers succeed, we succeed.”
Harry Logan was in the insurance and lending businesses when he launched Glenwood Insurance Agency in 1911. The town was just 26 years old, and didn’t stretch any farther south than 13th Street.
In 1919, Logan sold the business to Carleton Hubbard Sr., who ran it until the 1960s, said his son, Carleton Hubbard Jr. of Glenwood Springs, who also worked in the business in his younger years.
The senior Hubbard, who had spent the previous 10 years as county clerk and deputy county clerk, had purchased the Garfield County Abstract Co. a year earlier, and he was very busy running the two businesses.
Needing help, he hired Ada Hutchings, a former Strawberry Queen. Proximity paid off, and the two were married in 1928. They ran the two companies from an office in the Hotel Glenwood, a four-story wooden structure at the northeast corner of Eighth and Grand.
In 1944, they moved the office across the street into the brick First National Bank Building. The following year, the Hotel Glenwood burned to the ground.
In the 1960s, the Hubbards bought the abstract companies that were serving Eagle and Pitkin counties, just at the time when Vail and Snowmass Village were beginning to be developed. The title business was far more demanding than the insurance business, so the Hubbard family sold the 50-year-old insurance agency to Walter Thrall.
“My dad would feel very proud,” Hubbard said of the business continuing for another 50 years, “and it wouldn’t surprise him that it is still doing well. It was a nice little agency when he sold it. They [represented] good companies.”
In the same downtown block, Pat Bell owned a competing insurance agency in the Dever Building, on the northwest corner of Eighth and Grand.
“I remember going to my grandfather’s office on Saturday mornings with my brother to play with the rotary phones. We really grew up with the business,” said Scott Bolitho, son of Jere Bell (Pat Bell’s daughter) and her husband, Bill Bolitho.
In 1977, Pete Jones and Bill Bolitho bought the Glenwood Insurance Agency from Thrall and his partner, Ralph Sample. They merged the company with Bell’s agency, forming a company that was, for a few years, called the Glen Bell Agency.
A few years later, they also acquired the First Agency from Randy Wilson and Bob Howsam. In 1982, Pete’s brother Asa Jones came in as a partner. In 1983, they partners changed the name back to Glenwood Insurance Agency.
Today, Glenwood Insurance is owned by Scott Bolitho, Asa Jones, Bryan and Nettie Avery, along with investors Dennis Lawrence of Wyoming and Sarah Fleming of Grand Junction. Ian Exelbert, who previously served as market president for U.S Bank and controller for WestStar Bank in Glenwood Springs, joined the agency in September as an owner and chief operating officer.
Scott Bolitho also noted that Todd Thulson was a partner and key player in the agency from 1999 until his retirement in 2008.
Bolitho said as a kid, he never imagined following his father and grandfather into the insurance business.
“The last thing I was going to do was move back to Glenwood Springs. I wanted to work in sports marketing,” he said.
But he earned a college degree in insurance and finance, and spent seven years in Denver working for Travelers Insurance, one of the lines Glenwood Insurance has carried for decades. And then, just like his parents, he moved his young family back to Glenwood Springs and went into the business.
Now his son Ryan, 26, works there too.
“It was the same thing as me,” Scott Bolitho said. “He used to say to me, ‘Dad, how can you work in an office?’ And here he is.”
The insurance industry calls this multi-generational pattern “perpetuation.”
It results in stability and dependability that keeps customers and employees on board for years. Many of the agency’s customers are the second, third and, in some cases, fourth generations doing business with Glenwood Insurance, and some employees have been with the company for 20 to 30 years.
For Exelbert, it’s like stepping into a deep tradition.
“This is a great opportunity to carry on the legacy of a Glenwood Springs business that has stood the test of time, and proven its commitment to customers and employees again and again,” he said.
– Publicist Mandy Gauldin contributed to this report.