Jim Newhouse, owner of M&M Insurance Associates, celebrated his 46th anniversary in the insurance business this week.
He moved his business to its present location at the corner of Douglas and Hydraulic, once the city’s Studebaker dealership and later Lancelot’s home store.
It provides the unusual benefit of space to fix up his Model A’s and Model T’s, and when done they are driven up internal ramps, through the second-floor offices and to the display space above the street.
M&M sells policies for a variety of insurers. About 70 percent of its business is commercial, and the rest is individual.
Newhouse, still plenty lively, chatty and agile at 82, comes into the office every day.
Q. How did you get into the business?
A. My wife passed away in ’65, and I became involved in the Leukemia Society – she died of leukemia – and there was only three people in the Leukemia Society. It had just started. And one of the members had an insurance agency, and he’s the one who wanted a finance company for insurance premiums.
Q. Is insurance interesting?
A. It’s very interesting. Every day I come to work in the morning, and I never know what’s going to take place. … You’re talking to all these people. Everybody has all these problems. Everybody gives you a different story. … There are a lot of days we go home talking to ourselves. I tell the ladies here that I’m going to pad one of the rooms and at the end of the day you can go up there and scream and beat your head on the wall.
Q. What’s so frustrating?
A. People. People not telling you the truth. You have to know what’s going on, and when people don’t tell you the truth until the last of the game and you find out the story is totally different, that’s not good.
Q. How has it changed since you started?
A. When I started out in the business 46 years ago, we wrote homeowners with no deductibles. A $50 deductible was pretty much the standard. Now, it’s $1,000. … Everything has gotten much more expensive. When I started out in insuring houses, most of the homes were $8,000 to $10,000 and the premium would be $80 per year.
Q. You’re 82. Why do you still come in to the office every day?
A. I love it, and what else am I going to do? I don’t want to stay at home. … I don’t have anything else to do, and I enjoy it. The business is just part of me.