Brownstown insurance office closes; other local agency acquires customers



Walking into South Central Insurance in Brownstown, customers were greeted with a friendly smile from Richard “Dick” Burrell.

He became an insurance agent in 1971 and started South Central Insurance in 1983 with Larry Carmichael.

At the end of 2019, the office at 1112 W. Spring St. closed, signifying an end to Burrell’s career after 48 years.

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Even though customers are saddened about the closure, they have a peace of mind knowing they will receive the same great service at another longtime insurance agency in town, Carmichael Insurance LLC.

Penny Hinderlider worked for Burrell for 19 years and has moved to Carmichael Insurance as an agent and customer service representative, working alongside owners Sherry Schult and Kathy Nichols.

Burrell said he had considered retirement for a couple of years, but the final decision was made after he had surgery from a health issue in the spring of 2019.

“It got me thinking about life,” the 73-year-old said.

At the time, Hinderlider went to Carmichael Insurance to take care of customers while Burrell was off. Burrell said he realized it would work for Carmichael Insurance to acquire his business at the end of the year.

“I was going to go for 60 years, but I didn’t make it,” he said, smiling.

With Burrell and Carmichael maintaining a friendship and working together over the years, the acquisition made sense.

“I think for me, knowing the history with the two of them and remaining friends even though they did back in 1990 part ways, they’ve always remained friends and have a close relationship,” Schult said. “I think for us, it was kind of a natural thing. Kathy and I being owners want to grow the business.”

Schult specializes in the senior market of health insurance, specifically Medicare. Burrell’s office didn’t offer that service, so Schult would take care of those customers.

Now, those customers and others can rely on Carmichael Insurance for all of their insurance needs, including home, auto, recreational vehicle, farm, commercial, life and health.

“When you have all of your insurance in one place, I think that you just trust the people that you work with that handle your policies,” Schult said. “For our own customers, it’s all about building relationships. It really just helps that business continue to grow.”

South Central Insurance traces its roots to 1910 when Foster Insurance Agency was founded by F.C. Foster. At the time, the agency only dealt with farm insurance. Over the years, though, it became a full property and casualty insurance agency.

In 1946, C.O. Story returned home from having served in the U.S. Army during World War II and joined the firm as an employee. The next year, he became a partner in the firm with Foster, and the agency changed names to Foster-Story Insurance Agency.

In 1952, Noble K. Foster purchased the interest of his uncle, F.C., when he retired, and the firm was incorporated the next year.

Carmichael joined the agency and became a part owner in 1966 until five years later when he accepted a position with World Wide Films, a part of Billy Graham Ministries. Burrell then accepted a position as an agent, and he became a part owner in 1972.

On Jan. 1, 1973, Story retired, and the agency was owned and operated by Noble and Burrell. The next year, Carmichael returned to the agency and again became part owner.

Noble retired Jan. 1, 1981, leaving Carmichael and Burrell to operate the agency. It was reincorporated as South Central Insurance Inc. in 1983.

Three years later, Carmichael operated a branch office in Seymour. Then in 1990, he and Burrell parted ways, and Carmichael operated the Seymour office and Burrell ran the Brownstown location.

In November 2017, after 57 years in the insurance business, Betty Bowling developed a health issue and retired from owning and operating Home Town Insurance in Brownstown. South Central Insurance then purchased her agency.

Burrell said he credits customer service and long-term employees to the longevity of his agency.

“You have your employees build a relationship with the clients,” he said. “I’ve been blessed with that. Larry has really, too. I think they make a connection with people. I think that’s the key.”

Burrell said Hinderlider has been a big asset to his business, and he expects that to continue at Carmichael Insurance.

“Penny has been a very, very big cog in my wheel for almost 19 years,” Burrell said. “I would be lost without her input when it comes to this modernization stuff. It’s not me.”

Schult said she and Nichols are happy to have Hinderlider come on board.

“We feel very blessed to have Penny coming with us,” she said. “We are excited because we know what caliber of a person she is and how she handles the clients, and we also just know that those customers know Penny, and so I think that they are still going to have that level of comfort.”

Hinderlider is excited about the opportunity, too.

“I’ve had some people say, ‘Oh, OK, you’re going. I’ll stay’ because they are familiar with me, I’m familiar with them and their policies, so that made them feel comfortable to know that they just weren’t being left high and dry,” she said.

Schult started in the insurance business in 1986 when she worked for Carmichael and Burrell after graduating from high school. A year later, she went to college but returned in the summers to work for them.

“Now, I just feel like it’s kind of coming back together,” she said of being an owner of the business formerly owned by Carmichael and acquiring Burrell’s customers.

Nichols is Carmichael’s daughter, and she said she helped some at the business until officially starting to work there in 1997. She and Schult became owners in January 2017.

“Larry is still here all of the time, and he still helps us tremendously,” Schult said.

Both Burrell and Carmichael said they enjoyed a long career in insurance.

“It provided a needed service to people who are in a bad situation,” Burrell said. “Auto accident, house destroyed, you’re there to help them, and it makes you feel good. It really does.”

Nichols said her father has always had a passion for life insurance.

“When that time comes when a family loses that person and he’s able to hand them a check to give them peace of mind, that’s where it’s at,” she said. “That’s one of the things I remember big on him because he had a passion for that.”

Both men also were involved with the community, including serving with the Brownstown Volunteer Fire Department. Burrell served the department for more than 40 years and also was a member of the Brownstown Park Board for 21 years, Plus, he was a part of the Brownstown area business community and sponsored local sports teams and school events and functions.

“It has been my desire to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” Burrell said.

The public is invited to a celebration of Burrell’s retirement from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the fellowship hall at Brownstown Christian Church, 703 W. Spring St.

“It’s almost like a community celebration because he has done so much for the community,” Hinderlider said.

While his office is closed, Burrell looks back on his agency with pride and knows his customers are in good hands.

“I’m not involved in the day-to-day operations, but I will be around to help,” he said. “Many thanks are extended once again to my many valued and appreciated clients and friends.”

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What: Retirement celebration for Richard “Dick” Burrell

When: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Fellowship hall at Brownstown Christian Church, 703 W. Spring St., Brownstown

Who: Public is invited

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Carmichael Insurance LLC is at 320 N. Sugar St., Brownstown.

For information, call 812-358-2200.


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