Farmers Bank to Acquire Bowers Insurance Agency

CORTLAND, Ohio – Farmers National Bank, Canfield, announced Monday that it will acquire the Bowers Insurance Agency Inc., 339 N. High St., for an undisclosed price in stock and cash.

Kevin Helmick, president and CEO of Farmers National Banc Corp. and its largest subsidiary, Farmers National Bank, and Ben Bowers, president and owner of the insurance agency, said the agency would become part of Farmers National Insurance LLC, the wholly owned insurance subsidiary of the bank.

Bowers will retain its name but be identified as “Bowers Group Insurance, A Division of Farmers National Bank.” Both Bowers and Helmick expect the purchase to close “sometime in June.” All regulatory approvals have been secured.

The acquisition will add 19 employees to Farmers Bank, Bowers said. Farmers’ insurance subsidiary has three employees, said Dan Cverko, vice president of insurance and investments.

The insurance agency, founded by Bowers’ great-grandfather, Charles Bowers, in 1913, enjoyed revenues in excess of $2 million last year, Ben Bowers said. His grandfather, Frank Bowers, continued selling and renewing agricultural and personal policies. His father, Frank Bowers, expanded into commercial insurance 30 years ago and built that segment up.

Ben Bowers’ son-in-law, secretary/treasurer Matt Parise, “will be the fifth generation,” the owner noted, who sells “all lines of insurance to a wide variety of clients.”

Some 65% to 70% of the policies the Bowers agency has written cover companies throughout Ohio, the majority in the northeastern quadrant, the owner says. The balance are personal policies. Most individual holders of property and casualty policies live in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

The agency has a satellite office in Reynoldsburg outside Columbus.

Helmick expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings within a year, he said. The benefit to Farmers is, ”We can offer more types of products. We can offer more complex coverage, do more commercial coverage,” the Farmers CEO said. “And we have a sales force ready to go.”

Bowers will sit on the Farmers National Insurance LLC Board of Directors.

Farmers offers his sales force “a vast amount of new leads to Farmers customers,” Bowers said, “an awesome distribution channel” and the opportunity to sell more personal insurance policies throughout the 38 offices in nine counties where Farmers has a physical presence.

Yesterday’s announcement is the culmination of a courtship that began two years ago when Farmers began referring leads to the Bowers agency and Bowers reciprocated. They found had similar values and similar cultures, and worked well together, Helmick and Bowers agreed. “Confidence grew on both sides,” Bowers said, and with a laugh added, “Then they made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

The agreement announced Monday benefits Farmers as it seeks to increase its sources of noninterest income, Helmick said. Its first big step in this regard came in 2009 when it acquired the Butler Wick Trust Co. and renamed it Farmers Trust. The second occurred in 2013 when it bought National Associates Inc., Rocky River, an independent third-party employee benefits plan administrator.

“We would consider other smart acquisitions,” Helmick said, and stopped there when asked about plans for growth.

He called the purchase of Bowers “a strategic merger expected to enhance Farmers’ product line up and offer broader options of commercial, farm, home and property/casualty insurance carriers to meet the needs of all Farmers customers.”

Bowers will add some 20 carriers to the list of insurance companies Farmers will represent, Bowers said.

Pictured: Kevin Helmick, president/CEO of Farmers National Bank, and Ben Bowers, president, Bowers Insurance Agency.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.