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Fourth generation takes over helm at Koefod Agency

 

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Jeff Healy sits behind his desk at Koefod Agency Wednesday in Havre.

A fourth generation has taken over at a seven-decade business in Havre, with Jeff Healy taking ownership of Koefod Agency at the beginning of this year.

"I'm looking forward to carrying out a legacy," Healy said.

Koefod has been doing business in Havre for the past 73 years, originally incorporated by Healy's grandfather and great-grandfather, Don Koefod and Ralph Koefod, in 1946. The business was originally located in the Masonic Temple - now the 305 Building - before moving to Third Avenue, in the same building as Stockman Bank in 1991. In 1998, the business moved to 223 Third Ave. Healy added that Koefod owns the building where they are located.

Healy said Koefod was a bank before 1946, but it incorporated as Koefod Insurance Agency. In 1986, Koefod expanded its services to real estate, primarily farm sales and farm management. It also began dealing with residential and commercial property sales.

In 1991, Koefod purchased North Central Agency, which dealt mostly in crop insurance, but also offered health and life insurance. Healy added that Koefod covers all insurances other than life and health.

Koefod later purchased Solem Insurance Agency's property, casualty, security and crop insurance lines in 1997.

Healy said his father, Tom Healy, began working at Koefod in the mid-1970s, shortly after marrying his mother, Debbie Healy, daughter of Don Koefod.

After Don Koefod died in 1993, the agency was purchased by Tom and Debbie Healy.

Tom Healy was a designated certified insurance counselor and served as president of the Montana Professional Insurance Agents Association from 1998 to 1999.

In 2018, Tom Healy retired, selling the business to Jeff Healy.

Healy said he has many good memories of his father growing up. One memory, he said, was from when he was about 4 or 5 years old, when Koefod was still in the Masonic Temple.

"I use to think it was the coolest thing to come down to the office," he said.

He said that he and his brother, Tom, enjoyed playing with the phones and all of the different phone extensions, calling each other from different rooms in the office.

He also remembered riding on the elevator of the Masonic Temple as a child, he said.

Healy said he remembers his father going to work. His father did a variety of insurance, he said, and was recognized a number of times for being really good with insurance. He said he also remembers going on family trips with his father for business.

"As a kid, that was exciting," he said.

His father always knew how to tie a business trip with a family vacation, he said.

He said he admired the dedication of his father and is already learning how draining and mentally taxing it could be to be a business owner.

Another thing Healy said he remembered about is father, and something his father was known for, was how is father bought a large amount of small promotional items that were all branded with the Koefod name, such as pizza cutters, fly swatters and hats.

He said his father really enjoyed having those things, although over the years he had to cut back on a few of them leaving about 11 different Koefod branded items.

"It was out of control," he said, laughing.

Healy said that what was special about his father, something that he is beginning to embrace, was how his father looked at the job as helping people understand something that was very complicated but needed. He said his father had a way of painting a picture of why people needed insurance.

Healy said he always ejoyed working with his father.

His father was one of those guys, he said, who knew everything about the business, and it was always nice to know his father was a good reference for answers.

He said that over the years he worked with his father, they did a few things together, one of them being that they still traveled together to different work-related meetings, conferences and so-on. He added that Koefod would also not be where it is without their employees.

"We've always had some awesome employees," he said.

In addition to their long-standing client base, he said, they have also had long-standing employees, some of which have worked for the company for over 20 years leaving their own legacies.

"It's always been my goal to not be a bad boss, that's the key, I guess, in my mind," he said.

With four generations he has some pretty big shoes to fill, he said, but he is excited for the future and excited to continue to help Havre.

The future

His father semi-retired about five or six years ago, Healy said, so not much has changed in the way the business operates. Although the weight is all on his shoulders now, he said.

"The big thing that we still carry on today is the fact that he would never take a customer on if he felt that they were in it for the wrong reason," he said. "If it was bad for somebody else, even if it was good for him, he would never take advantage of that."

Healy said he moved back to Havre from Missoula in 2008, not sure if he wanted to eventually take over the family business, but saw it as a good opportunity and decided to pursue it. He said he moved back because his father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement and often includes tremors. He said he wanted to be close to home because he knew he was going to eventually need to help out.

While he lived in Missoula, Healy said, he attended business classes at the University of Montana and worked as a salesman at a Harley-Davidson dealership.

He said he also has a son, Ty Verploegen, 6, but he does not know if Ty will eventually work at Koefod, with so many options for careers.

In the past 11 years that Healy has worked at Koefod, he said, he started out mainly working as a real estate agent, doing some crop insurance on the side. In 2017, he started doing commercial-line insurance, farm and ranch insurance and small business insurance.

He said Koefod deals primarily in insurance, although real estate and insurance often go hand-in-hand.

One of the things that most people might not think of with insurance is just how complicated it is, he said. Most people picture the process as bringing in a title or a VIN number into the office and walking out with insurance, he said, not realizing how complicated and complex the process is.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Jeff Healy looks over an old document from the early years of Koefod Agency Wednesday in Havre.

Healy said one of the things he is proud of and appreciates is the long-standing clients they have had over the years. He said there are some people who worked with his grandfather, families that have been with them for more than 40 or 50 years.

"We grow as they grow," he said.

Throughout the years, Koefod has also contributed to organizations, activities and events in communities on the Hi-Line, he said. He said doing so is something he enjoys and is excited to continue.

He said when people come into Koefod, working with any of the agents available, he wants people to leave with a smile and a sense of comfort knowing that they will be taken care of.

He added that Koefod wants to make the process less confusing, more understandable and user friendly.

"It is an important role but not a glamorous role," he said. "It's a needed service with a goal ... that people are not afraid to come into and learn more about how to make it."

 

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