Guy Wood Insurance
The Piper family has been well known and appreciated in our community for many years, primarily because of their extreme friendliness, ability to build relationships, and civic service. They own and operate Guy Wood Insurance at 1400 Broadway in Mt Vernon.
The company was originally founded in 1923 by Mr. Guy Wood himself, making this year their 100th year in business!
Mr Wood was originally located at 10th and Broadway, (where the Register News building was located.) He diversified from insurance into more financial services, eventually opening King City Federal Savings and Loan which would many years later become the modern Community First Bank!
Fast forward to 1965, Guy Wood Jr. has taken over responsibilities at King City Federal and the Insurance agency. Sheila Kennedy started working at the agency soon after graduating high school at Mt Vernon. She married her husband, Ben Piper in 1966, and helped put him through school at SIU-C where he studied English, History, and Geography.
During those years, Guy Wood Insurance was sold to Ben and Mavis Martin in the late 60’s, and Sheila continued working for their company. They decided to keep the name Guy Wood Insurance to honor the founder, and the trust that the public already had in the excellent name.
Ben (Piper) graduated and began a teaching career. He taught school for 7-8 years. Finding he was excellent at communication skills and relationship building, he would leave the teaching profession to pursue a career in sales. He worked for various companies over the next 10+ years, among them being the Campbell Soup company, as well as WMCL radio. They had 3 boys during these years, Todd, Chris, and Ryan.
In 1985 Sheila convinced Ben to stop traveling so much for sales and use his gifts to benefit their family closer to home. He started part time at Guy Wood Insurance, obtaining his insurance license and beginning the journey of insurance sales that would forever change the course of their family history.
By 1987, he went full-time into Insurance and devoted the next decades of his life to building a strong company built on long-lasting relationships, finding solutions for people’s problems, and good old fashioned trust.
In 2003, Ben and Sheila’s son Todd would join the business as well.
Todd had graduated Mt Vernon High School and immediately enlisted with the Air Force. He served as a Weatherman at a Pilot Training Base in Columbus Mississippi for 4 years from 1987-1991.
Upon his return home, he enrolled at SIU-C like his father, majoring in Geology.
When he graduated, he found he was gifted in management and people development, and worked in business to train managers and help others be the best version of themselves they could be. He met his wife Gail while working in Evansville IN, and they were married in 1997.
He did end up using his degree while working for United Science Industries in Environmental Remedial Services, helping with clean-up projects, and removal services. He enjoyed this field, but found himself traveling quite a bit. Todd and Gail have two sons, Benjamin and Cristopher, and Todd wanted to spend more time with family and be there for all the major events in life. When the call came in 2003 to join his mom and dad at Guy Wood Insurance, he decided to take the leap of faith! They had officially purchased the company the year before, (in 2002,) and were hoping Todd could help them grow the company the way they knew it could.
Ben says of Todd, “He really took our business to another level. While I pursued regular residential lines of business such as vehicles, homes, RV’s and boats, Todd pursued commercial business, life, and health.”
Both men used their God-given talents and gifts to build relationships and earn the trust of their hundreds of clients.
“We call them clients, not customers. McDonald’s has customers. Customers are people that want what you have. Nobody necessarily WANTS insurance,” says Todd, “but they recognize that they NEED it. That changes the dynamic. I now get to provide a service for my clients. I get to supply a need, and do so with empathy and compassion. That’s why I love what I do.”
When asked what sets Guy Wood Insurance apart from other companies, Ben and Todd both responded, “Service. Relationship. Trust.”
“For some people, it’s all about price…….until there’s a claim. When you actually need your insurance company to write you a check, you are only concerned with how good of a company you have in your corner. Who will fight for you, guide you through the confusing process, and take care of your needs then?” Todd asks.
“Most of our clients are also our friends. We know them. We truly care about protecting your family, business, and possessions.”
Being an independent insurance agency also gives opportunities to find unique solutions to difficult problems. “Some of the large insurance companies have difficulty finding solutions to unique problems because they only offer package plans to fit the majority of people. We aren’t like that. We can search dozens of trusted carriers to find custom solutions, and then offer tailored plans to fit your specific circumstances” reports Todd.
The company has grown extensively over the years. They now have three inside personal line sales professionals, and four outside producers.
“Commercial insurance or business insurance is one of my favorite topics” says Todd, “I love to help businesses not only protect what they have, but also prepare for the future. I love to see my clients grow and be successful. Workman’s Comp insurance is a huge barrier to many young companies, and I love walking them through their options, finding solutions, and even helping with things they haven’t thought of, such as a return to work program that can benefit their team and bottom line.”
“Business is and always has been about relationships” reminds Todd, “I love that I have found a place to use my gifts, work with my family, and support my community. If you are curious about anything insurance related, or just need a friendly conversation, my door is always open.”
Join us in congratulating the Pipers for helping Guy Wood Insurance be in our community for 100 years! If you see them around town, thank them for being a loyal Chamber of Commerce member and supporter, and for being amazing friends and professionals in our community!
Story brought to you by: the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Council