Staff members from The Morris Agency and Tate, Heinz., Ellis and Sexton will merge effective Jan. 1. The two companies, which will merge under The Morris Agency name, have histories in Selma dating back to the early 1900s. -- Tim Reeves

Selma’s two largest insurance firms join forces

Published 9:14pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

It’s not often the two largest players and rivals in their respective fields come together, merge into one agency. But come Tuesday, that’s exactly what will happen when The Morris Agency and Tate, Heinz, Ellis and Sexton — both independent insurance agencies — will merge under The Morris Agency banner.

“This is something that we have been looking at, talking about over a period of a number of years,” Jere Peak, owner of The Morris Agency, said. “The advantage to combining the two agencies, from a business standpoint, is to create some efficiencies but also to bring the two largest agencies together to combine their resources to better serve Selma and Dallas County.”

While discussed off and on for years, Paul Ellis, with Tate, Heinz, Ellis and Sexton, said the talks accelerated in recent months.

“We’ve been talking about it the best past three or four years, but it really got serious about it the past six months. It’s just time to do it,” Paul said.

While agreed to in recent weeks, the merger of the two agencies will not be effective until Tuesday, Jan. 1.

“Both names are well respected in the business and we will work to ease the transition for all Tate, Heinz, Ellis and Sexton customers,” Peak said. “Current customers will continue to see billing statements with Tate, Heinz, Ellis and Sexton for the next few months. But, they will ultimately transition statements to The Morris Agency.”

Many of the staffs will remain in the merger, with the principles of Joe Sexton, Paul and Aubrey Ellis remaining on. Peak also announced his son, Owen, has joined The Morris Agency, after working in the insurance industry in Birmingham the past five years.

“As an independent agent this allows us to pool a greater number of insurance companies, therefore increase the choices that we are able to offer our customers and the citizens of Selma and Dallas County,” Peak said. “By combining forces, the agency will now be able to offer a staff with more than 175 years of insurance industry experience. As the banner we work under says, we really are The Trusted Choice.”

Sexton said the combined experience of the staffs, and the additional pool of products, is the biggest advantage in this merger.

“These agencies that started in the 1900s, became what and who they are through a number of mergers, acquisitions an changes. This is just another change,” Sexton said.

For Aubrey, in the end, the merger was made with one thing in mind.

“You usually don’t see the two largest agencies coming together very often and we’ve always been real big rivals, but we put that aside in making this happen,” Aubrey said. “It’s the best thing for all of our customers.”

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