Melcher & Prescott sees new era dawning for independent insurance companies

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The insurance business has gone through many changes in the past century-and-a-half, and Melcher & Prescott, headquartered  at the corner of Court and South Main streets in Laconia, has adapted to them all. Some changes have been particularly challenging, such as the emergence of direct channel competitors, in the vein of GEICO and Progessive Insurance. Chris Volpe, chief executive officer at Melcher & Prescott, and Vincent “Butch” Schuck, chief operating officer, see another change about to crest. They think independent agencies are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this change – if they are able to adapt in time.
Melcher & Prescott has been around for more than 150 years but its prominence today is largely due to the leadership of the Volpe family. Tom Volpe – who still comes to work every day – bought the agency in 1959, when there were only five people working in the office. Chris, Tom’s son, has been involved in the business since 1987, and he said the company now employs 47 people, who work in offices in Laconia, Meredith, Moultonborough and Plymouth.
“I think we’re representative of a lot of independent businesses out there – a lot of things have changed,” said Schuck. Schuck joined Melcher & Prescott three years ago, and was promoted to cheif operating officer less than a month ago. He’s part of an influx of new energy to the well-known business, which is implementing strategy aimed at meeting the needs of a burgeoning class of customers – millenials, who have a different list of criteria they want their insurers to serve.
While the direct channel insurers were able to compete by offering a basic product at a basic price. Schuck said that might have worked for most consumers for a while, but that the customers who are now beginning to take over the market demand more from their insurers. Specifically, they want to be able to engage the services of an expert, and one who knows their customers as well as they know their product – and that’s something that GEICO will never be able to do as well as Melcher & Prescott.
“Our strategy is that we want to have deep expertise,” said Schuck. “It needs to go beyond price and product.”
Insurance, said Volpe, “is a personal relationship business – that’s what we’ve always been... Now we need to enhance our capabilities.” The local insurance office has long offered service through face-to-face or telephone interactions, and while those are still a part of Melcher & Prescott’s tool kit, that kit now also includes digital options such as web portals and webinars. Volpe said, “Consumers now want to play in any channel they wish – when they wish.”
Through these interactions, Schuck said the insurance company will get to know their clients, including which means they prefer to engage with their insurance professionals, and what products would best address each customer’s needs and concerns. “Instead of being an expert in (only) price and product, it’s being an expert in your customers. The person who knows their client best is the one who is going to be successful.”
Melcher & Prescott began developing this strategy in 2014, and is now seeing it completely in action. Bringing it to the fore hasn’t been easy, as it has required a signicant investment in human resources – Schuck estimates that the company’s hires within the past eight months have added 100 years worth of experience to the staff – but he and Volpe feel that keeping abreast of the wave is the best way to stay afloat.
“We’re putting a lot of energy into being a better agency, and I’m very proud of that,” said Volpe. “Our mindset is: How do we adapt to the consumer’s needs as pragmatically as possible?”

 06 16 Melcher and Prescott Volpe Schuck

Chris Volpe, CEO, president and owner of Melcher & Prescott, and Vincent "Butch" Schuck, chief operating officer, have repositioned the insurance company to serve the requirements of a new generation of customers. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Adam Drapcho
  • Category: Business
  • Hits: 70

Wescott Law joins Laconia Rotary under new membership program

 

LACONIA -- Local legal practice Wescott Law has joined the Laconia Rotary Club under a new Rotary membership category.

"The attorneys at Wescott Law are proud to join the Laconia Rotary Club and the Rotary International Network,” said Attorney Brett Allard, who was sworn in along with Attorney Rod Dyer as executive member. “The organization’s dedication to the community and its motto, 'Service Above Self,' are values that we share. We look forward to joining the Rotary in this mission.”

Wescott Law joined under Laconia Rotary’s new Connection Program which allows local businesses and organizations to participate in a way that offers flexible attendance options to accommodate busy schedules.

Under the program, one person from the member business or organization is the executive member. There must be at least one active member as well. If the executive member is unable to attend a meeting, the active member may attend in his or her place. Other members of the business or organization can attend as alternatives but are not members of the club.

"Laconia Rotary has seen an increase in membership as a result of this flexible option which helps people manage competing demands for their time,” said Joanne Lang, Laconia Rotary president.

“Court dates and other commitments can make attending the weekly meetings difficult for a single attorney,” says Allard. “Under the Connection Program we can have several active members who attend meetings on behalf of the firm.”

Wescott Law joined Laconia Rotary to fill a lapse which occurred when Attorney Peter Millham retired from the firm a year ago. Millham was an active member for more than 50 years, and according to Lang, “although retired, remains an active member."

The organization’s signature fundraiser is the Laconia Bike Week Harley-Davidson Raffle. They also have an indoor winter Golf Tournament at Patrick’s Pub and Eatery and other smaller fundraisers. To learn more about membership in Laconia Rotary go to http://www.laconiarotary.org/.

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Business
  • Hits: 72

Meredith Village Savings launches new website

MEREDITH -- New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp, whose subsidiaries includes Meredith Village Savings Bank, has official launched new websites at nhmutual.com and mvsb.com

Mutual Bancorp's other, subsidiaries, Merrimack County Savings Bank and MillRiver Wealth Management, also have new websites.

Customers and online visitors of the Merrimack and MVSB will experience entirely new designs, layouts and enhanced functionality, while NHMB and MillRiver visitors will become familiar with each company’s online presence for the first time.

Improved and enhanced website features include:
• Information about upcoming upgrades to services such as online banking, mobile banking and mobile deposit directly on the home page of both banks
• The ability to login to online banking directly from the front page of both bank websites and links to account access from the front page of the MillRiver website
• Quick and easy to all four websites from any of the companies’ sites
• Connection to the local community through photos of regional events and locations taken by local photographers as part of the organizations’ annual photography contest
• Robust, up-to-the minute access to the latest financial education tools and information through a partnership with Truebridge, a leading provider of financial education pieces
• Information about current local trends in fraud and identity theft so customers can be informed and learn how to protect themselves from the issues affecting their communities

“Our customers regularly let us know what they like about our current websites, as well as what they’d like to see improved. Their thoughts, combined with the latest in website design trends, informed our ability to provide a better experience for those who visit us online,” said Cindy Hemeon-Plessner, senior vice president and marketing officer for all four companies. “Development and creation of the four web sites has been time-consuming and profound, but we hope that the new application-driven content will guide visitors to the banking, lending and financial education resources that best suit their needs.”

New Hampshire Mutual Bancorp, a mutual holding company, was formed in 2013 when two New Hampshire-based community banks, Meredith Village Savings Bank and Merrimack County Savings Bank, formally affiliated – the first relationship of its kind in New Hampshire.

 

 

 

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Business
  • Hits: 62

Belknap Subaru showcases its commitment to local cancer center

 

 

TILTON -- In an effort to make a positive impact on the health and wellness of the local community, Belknap Subaru has supported The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by writing notes of support, and delivering warm blankets to The Ganong Cancer Center at LRGHealthcare.

This effort is part of a larger Subaru of America Inc. initiative this month called Subaru Loves to Care. Throughout June, team members from Belknap Subaru are supporting their local community’s health and wellness by partnering with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Belknap Subaru is asking its customers and employees to share personalized messages of hope with those fighting cancers at Lake’s Region General Hospital, in Laconia, and provided a co-branded bracelet to customers to raise awareness.

Belknap Subaru will be donating blankets, and arts and crafts kits to cancer patients in the local community. More than 50 messages of hope will be delivered to patients at the Ganong Cancer Center, along with blankets for adults and arts & crafts kits for children undergoing treatment.

 

06 16 Belknap Subaru Wellness Support 

Belknap Subaru employees, from left, Kyle Boynton, Michael Lylk David Elliot, Dale Rollins, and Patty Jones, are among those at the auto dealership who are helping to support health and wellness in the area through the support of Leukemia and Lymphoma Society during June. (Courtesy photo) .

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Business
  • Hits: 73

CruCon, Phaneuf honored for ethical practices

By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Two Lakes Region businesses are among three recently honored by the Better Business Bureau of New Hampshire for their ethical practices for their employees and customers.
The local honorees to received the bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics are Financial Focus of Wolfeboro and CruCon Cruise Outlet of Moultonborough. Phaneuf Funeral Homes of Manchester, Boscawen and Littleton was also honored,
Winners were celebrated at the organization’s 17th annual awards event on June 14.
Financial Focus, led by Susan John, was the winner in small-business category, while CruCon, led by its founder Sandy Cleary, was the winner in the large-business category.
“This is the 17th year that the Better Business Bureau of New Hampshire has sponsored the Torch Awards for Marketplace Ethics. Each year the light gets brighter as the public hears of yet another group of leaders who bring ethical standards to every aspect of their business. It’s visible in relationships with customers, employees, vendors, ae,” said Howard Brodsky, chairman of the New Hampshire Better Business Bureau board of directors.
Financial Focus is a comprehensive financial services company. The firm often works outside of the traditional financial services realm when they help a family research assisted living facilities or sort out the best approach to saving for college. Within the community, the firm provides pro-bono asset management and financial planning to nonprofit organizations, and individual members of the Financial Focus team help in many ways, including participating in volunteer activities with the Central New Hampshire Visiting Nurse Association, where John is a member of the board of directors, and through donations and fundraising activities for LIFE Ministries Food Pantry.
CruCon is an online travel agency specializing in cruises that grew from a two-person startup to a 120-person business. Employees are treated to luxe lounges and in-house gyms, and meals provided by a professional culinary team. Under Cleary’s leadership, the company is one of the most recognized names in the cruise and travel industry, having also won 2017 Business of the Year by New Hampshire Magazine and an Outstanding Women in Business Award in 2014. CruCon gives back by supporting many philanthropic endeavors, especially those that benefit youth and families in the Granite State. Those entities include a $100,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Laconia, CASA NH, Lakes Region Children’s Auction, Children’s Cancer Caring Center, Sandwich Children’s Center, blood drives and fundraisers.

 06 16 BBB Awards

Winners of the Better Business Bureau of New Hampshire’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics stand with two of the BBB’s top officials at the recent awards ceremony. Shown, from left, are Howard Brodsky, chair of the NH BBB board of directors; Arthur Phaneuf; Sandy Cleary; and Susan John  and Robert Shomphe, president and CEO of NH BBB. (Courtesy photo)

  • Written by Mike Mortensen
  • Category: Business
  • Hits: 67