1934: Establishment in Kansas
In 1927, EMC entered Kansas by contracting with the State General Agency, located in McPherson and operated under Farmer Alliance Insurance Company’s ownership. By 1933, when the relationship with State General Agency had not proven profitable, EMC President John A. Gunn sent M.J. Wilkinson to McPherson to open branch operations and promote business there. In 1934, Wilkinson relocated the office to the Ellis Singleton Building in downtown Wichita, thereby establishing the Wichita Branch, EMC’s first branch office.
1940s: Growth and Change
By 1941, Wilkinson had built Wichita’s profitable production up to $400,000 from the $80,000 it was producing when the branch first began. In the same year, he was succeeded by Harold C. Dabler, who served as branch manager until 1970. During this time, Dabler built premium to over $5 million, expanded the staff from 14 to more than 80 employees and helped make Wichita the first branch to have its own office built to EMC specifications in 1948.
The EMC building specifications were based on a uniform architectural plan for new branch offices to make them better-suited for their suburban environment. The one-story boxlike architectural designs, created by architects Key and Hestrup, mimicked the modernist style of the mid-twentieth-century.
Late 1960s: New Claim Handling, New Office
In 1965, Wichita became the first branch to handle its own fire claims under the direction of Fire Claims Supervisor James D. Hobson. Major growth steps were taken in 1967 to expand territory to Oklahoma City, where a new claims and production office opened under Wichita’s supervision. Plus, 16 new agencies were added that autumn during what was called “The Big Roundup.”
1980s: Safety Group Programs and Continued Expansion
In 1980, Wichita became the first branch outside of Iowa to establish an underwriting unit for large special risks. And in 1982, the Independent Insurance Agents of Kansas endorsed the Wichita Branch’s safety dividend group plan for the Kansas Municipal Utilities Association members. Safety dividend groups combine accounts sharing similar risks and coverages for the promotion of safety and loss control.
1996: Conversion of Dallas Service Office
In 1993, the Wichita Branch leased an additional 5,000 square feet to house Texas underwriting, rating and policy issuance functions. In 1996, the Dallas Service Office converted to function under Wichita’s direction, providing claims, risk improvement, audit, marketing, rating and underwriting services to Texas agents and policyholders.
The Wichita Branch Today
Wichita currently serves Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with the hard work of 173 employees and 292 agencies. The branch currently produces $165.5 million in premium, of which 92 percent is commercial lines and 8 percent is personal lines.