Kris Zinszer, Agency Manager of Howard Webb Insurance
By Dirk Webb
Vision comes in all shapes and sizes but recognition of an opportunity is the most important piece of the puzzle. Howard Webb, former Madison County Chamber Board President, realized that when he sold a home that same buyer needed insurance and, in most cases, a loan. Webb recognized that each of his products were innately attached to the other and a full service business was born.
In 1950 Howard purchased a small insurance company from Charlie Snarf, renamed it and moved into the old Citizens Bank building (now Key Bank.) For a period of time the Webb agency occupied a corner of 14th and Jackson next to the original Anderson McDonalds before finally moving to 525 East 8th Street in 1977.
Howard’s son-in-law Kendall Zinszer is currently the Owner and President and his son, Kris assumed the role of Agency Manager in July, 2014.
Where are you originally from? – “I was born and raised here in Anderson, graduated from AHS (the old building) in 1992. Coincidently, Howard was an AHS grad as well.”
What year was your company founded? –“1950. We’ve been here in our Park Place location for nearly 40 years. Some things have changed a lot yet somethings never change.
What are your primary products? – “Personal and commercial insurance; home owner, automobile and business insurance. We still do real estate but our primary focus is on insurance. It’s interesting to note that the focus of our business has been one long cycle. We started as an insurance company, then at one point our real estate business outpaced insurance and now we’re back to focusing on insurance growth. We’re a prime example of evolving your business in the face a changing business climate.”
What are your goals for 2015? – “Growth in our core product base. We’re very interested in Main Street America business. We believe that streamlining back to our roots as a function of market conditions has helped us weather some of the changes in business opportunities we’ve seen and we’ve been relatively successful even in a contracted business model. You’ll see us move out in many areas of advertising and sponsorships in the next year. Also, we’re changing our old slogan, ‘Howard Webb Sold Mine to Howard Webb Insures Me.’”
Why are you in this business? – “My background and degrees are in engineering. At one point I sold my business and had decisions to make. Where to go, what to do. I had three significant opportunities, yet I got the best offer from my father for this wonderful family business? I felt like Anderson was a “buy” not “sell” proposition.”
Why here in Madison County? – “The people. So many community leaders were such an influence on my life – Jim Ault, Carl Erskine, my grandfather himself. We also see phenomenal growth opportunity here. Even though we closed our other business Zinszer’s Bakery after 30 years we feel this community is past the low point and the pendulum is swinging up now. When we look at Anderson in the 50’s and 60’s…everything is cyclical and that era is a reflection of who we are to be again.”
Who do you consider the most courageous person in history and why? – “Dwight Eisenhower. He did things that were unpopular and difficult but he did them. Courage is doing things that are unpopular because you believe they are the right thing to do. We do that every day here.”
If you were to take that person on a tour of your business, what one thing would you want them to see? – “We make an attempt regardless of economic status or size of account, to treat each individual as we would want to be treated if we were sitting on the other side of the table. Someone may spend only $100 with us and we may make a profit of four or five dollars but it’s worth it. We believe in the relationship. Our oldest customer came here in 1952 and we are very proud that we still have a close relationship over those years. At the end of the day, that’s our mission statement. We do a lot of business with people who’ve been through tough times.”
What was the defining moment when you knew your business was making a difference? – A particular retailer wanted to get insurance and was motivated mainly by trying to reduce cost. We took the extra steps to help identify why sales were declining and why the business wasn’t responding to market changes. We helped them not only save money, but increased revenues by 14%. When that person first came in, nearly in tears, and eight months later could see the light at the end of tunnel, that’s what it’s all about. When we saw a change in one of our customers’ situations unrelated to the insurance business, we knew we were making a difference.”
Launched as the Madison County Chamber's theme during the 2015 Annual Awards Gala, #COURAGEOUS is a platform to tell really good stories of really good people in business. It is a seamless collection of the thoughts, dreams, doubts, fears and inevitably the triumph of perseverance, hope and faith. These are the stories of business leaders in Madison County who have given us a gathering place or rather a rallying point to remind us that together as a community we can achieve much, both for ourselves and for the generations to come. #Courageous - yes we are.
Read more #COURAGEOUS stories here