From Oil to Insurance

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Welcome to the first in our series of ‘Working Wednesdays’. Please check back each Wednesday to discover the various roads people have taken into the insurance industry.
Today is especially close to my heart, because we will learn how Charlie Murray jumped into the insurance industry. Charlie is the founder of Murray & MacDonald Insurance, and without him, our company wouldn’t be where it is today, and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. You can read more about how I (Sara MacDonald) worked my way into the insurance industry at “insurance is a career”.
Charlie was married with five young children. He was happy and satisfied with a career in the heating and oil business. Charlie was a General Manager for Wright Oil Company, and as manager, each day presented itself with new challenges for Charlie to tackle. He was a “people person” with high energy and considered it a pleasure to be involved in the community.
However, much was to change due to an electrical problem Charlie experienced at his house.
Charlie’s house was at the end of his street. Another home was set to be built nearby and a local builder asked to tie into Charlie’s house for electricity. Initially Charlie declined and suggested they set up a temporary pole for the electricity. The builder was eager to start building and said setting up a temporary pole would delay the build. Charlie acquiesced, the builder tied into Charlie’s electrical panel and commencement began on the neighboring house.The builder kept blowing fuses and coming to Charlie’s basement to reset. At some point, the wires fused, the breaker did NOT go off and caused high voltage to stream through Charlie’s home burning wires and appliances without their own breakers. The builder suggested his insurance company pay for damage to Charlie’s home, but Charlie sought the advice of his local insurance agent. His agent insisted Charlie put a claim against his own homeowner insurance policy. This resulted in deductibles, depreciation on items in his home, etc. Charlie soon realized the advice he received from his local insurance agent was wrong and caused him unnecessary financial pain; he should have gone with the builder’s suggestion.
Unfortunately, or fortunately it was poor guidance… Charlie decided Falmouth needed an insurance agency that would provide personal service and attention, in the sale of insurance, and in advising the client long after the sale.
Within one year, he studied, took the necessary insurance exams and prepared for the beginning of C.M. Murray Insurance Agency, Inc {Murray & MacDonaldInsurance Services}.
In November 1971, Jacoby Real Estate gave Charlie a very small book of insurance {in the realm of $4,000 in sales, which may have been $800 in revenue} at the rear of a their real estate office on Queens Buyway, he had a desk, a telephone and no staff.
It was a small book of business, but it gave Charlie the jump start he needed. He represented one company, and he was focused on his goal: provide personal service and attention to his clients for the duration of their insurance policies.
As sales increased, Charlie realized he needed to add staff. In 1972, he moved the agency to Tataket Square, he added staff and a modern office was established. Soon the agency was reaching far beyond Falmouth and new insurance products were regularly added to their business portfolio. Owning an agency allowed Charlie a broadened involvement in the civic activities he enjoyed.
Continued growth required larger office space; they had approximately 6-8 employees and no longer fit comfortably in the Tataket Square office. The decision was made to purchase and renovate 406 Jones Road, in Falmouth, Massachusetts to accommodate said growth. It was a residential home, and the owner wanted to sell. Charlie purchased the building, renovated it and began the rezoning process from residential to commercial. Initially, the zoning board turned down his request stating it would expand the business district. Charlie, persistent and focused on continuing his dream of advising clients with their insurance matters, took his request to town meeting. He gave a visual with maps that illustrated it would not expand the business district, but include the building in the business district already established and completely surrounding it. He was granted the change and thus began C.M. Murray Insurance Agency, Inc, today known as Murray & MacDonald Insurance Services, Inc.
Next week on ‘Working Wednesday’, we will continue the history of our organization, with Douglas MacDonald, the current owner telling his story.
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