Willard and Williams Insurance Agency stays locally owned, purchased by Kato Insurance
Willard and Williams Insurance Agency, which started in Mankato in 1901, has been purchased by Kato Insurance Agency the companies announced Thursday, December 29, 2016.
Bob Richter, President of Willard and Williams Insurance Agency, said he feels that he has made the best choice for his customers and staff going forward. "It was important to me that the business stayed locally owned if possible,” Bob said. "Kato Insurance has always been a well-respected business in the area, and we have always been friendly competitors. After about a year of discussion, I felt they would be the perfect fit for our employees and longtime customers."
Willard and Williams has provided property and casualty, surety, life and health insurance to families and businesses throughout the region, and has been one of the longest running businesses in Mankato.
Kato Insurance began in Mankato in 1983 and has policyholders in 12 states. They provide a unique capability by having staff that specialize in one area of the market. This allows them to serve the commercial, employee benefits and personal needs of their customers with highly skilled and educated staff.
Scott Michaletz, President of Kato Insurance Agency, said they are excited to welcome Bob and his staff to the Kato team. “Bob, Jan, Steve and Bonnie bring with them decades of insurance and surety experience and we are excited to bring that talent to our office.” Scott said. “Just like at Willard and Williams, when customers call our office they aren’t getting a call center. They are talking with the people that know their policy inside and out. This is an important part of feeling secure and confident in what they have purchased, and gives us the confidence that we are properly addressing their needs. We don’t intend to change that.”
Richter and the local agency's three employees will remain with the company, operating under the Kato Insurance name. Operations will continue in their current location until the Kato Insurance office expansion project is complete, which will bring the Kato Insurance team to 15 professionals.
For Willard and Williams clients the acquisition means increased capabilities and coverage options. "They have access to significantly more carriers and specialty programs than we did as Willard and Williams," he said. "I think our customers are going to be pleased with the service and increased market access we can now provide, along with the additional support staff available to them.”
Richter commented that he knew the two agencies would be a great fit. “We both have a customer-centric culture, value creating long term relationships and trust and not cutting corners. We are all very excited to be joining to Kato Insurance team.”