People and persistence key to Kincaid Insurance's 50 years

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 08:37 AM

When Donald Kincaid first decided to get into the insurance business for himself, he had to take out a second mortgage on his home, and his wife, Syretha, “chewed me out pretty good,” he said.

Kincaid started out by himself selling insurance part-time, but today he owns two offices, employing nine full-time employees and one part-time. His company will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the end of this year.

The key to his company’s success? “Persistence, probably. Hard work,” Kincaid said but added that he could not have done it without his staff and family.

Kincaid Insurance is a family operation, with Kincaid’s daughter, sons and son-in-law all working for the company: son Donny has worked for him for 29 years; his daughter, Lisa Coffey, for 26; his son-in-law, Steve, for 20; and son Joel for seven. But the other employees are just as valuable, he said, with most working for him for more than a decade: Mandy Story has worked at Kincaid for 19 years, Bea Phelps for 15, and Sherrie Wright for nine.

“I’ve had extremely loyal employees,” Kincaid said. “And quite frankly they have been just as essential to the growth of my office over the years.”

After graduating from Appalachian State University, Kincaid began teaching history and government at Happy Valley High School in 1959, while also working for Mutual of New York, who taught him the ins and outs of selling life insurance.

Kincaid quit teaching at Happy Valley and went to work for State Farm, where he worked one year as the sole agent in Caldwell County and also covered part of Burke County.

It wasn’t long until he wanted to start his own insurance office, and did, signing on with a small insurance company, Mill Owners Mutual, officially establishing Kincaid Insurance in December 1963. Things started out slowly, with Kincaid selling insurance only part-time and going back to teaching, this time at Oak Hill High School.

Mill Owners Mutual soon sold to the larger Kemper Insurance, and Kincaid began to build his company around Kemper and a few other suppliers.

After three years teaching at Oak Hill, Hibriten High School was established, and Kincaid taught there a year before being elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives. Donny Kincaid took over much of the operation of the business while Kincaid served three terms in the N.C. House and six terms in the state Senate, from 1973 to 1997.

“Without a good staff, I couldn’t run the agency,” Kincaid said, because personal servie  makes his insurance company successful, and he couldn’t give that personal service from his desk in Raleigh.

His experience in politics helped his business because he got to know people in the county, the same way that teaching at three different county high schools helped, he said.

Kincaid still has customers that have been with him from the beginning, and has gone from writing insurance for students that he taught at Happy Valley, Oak Hill and Hibriten, to writing insurance for their children.

“I built this company from scratch, through hard work and blessings,” Kincaid said, adding that he hopes the business will be carried on by his children and staff for the next 50 years.