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Hatch Insurance Agency – 70 Successful Years


Photo by Christy Porter
Two generations and 47 years of the Hatch Insurance business are represented by
 David Hatch, Melissa (Hatch) Lewis and Cookie and Doc Hatch.
By Christy Porter

Managing Editor

     Hatch Insurance Agency was established in 1949, initially as a branch-off of a need related to the Licking Public School system. Joel Hatch was named Superintendent of Licking Schools on May 1, 1936, a position he held until he resigned in 1949.

                                                                                                Photo Submitted
Joel Hatch with his dog sitting in one of the Licking School buses.
He then bought school buses, as consolidation of the Licking School District made them necessary. Students were transported from a radius of approximately 20 miles. Insurance was now an immediate necessity, and he couldn’t afford it through another agency, thus he started Hatch Insurance as a means of providing for his new transportation venture.  At that time no training or testing was required. It would be 20 years before that would change. Joel’s wife Aileen, a partner in life, was not involved at the agency. She was a schoolteacher. She would help take the Licking math department to numerous competitions.

Photo Submitted
First generation, Joel Hatch pictured here with
 Nellie Miller in the original Hatch Insurance 
Agency office; the typewriter on the far right
 still has a place at the agency in its 
newer current location.
     The original business was located on Main Street as an Independent Insurance Agent office. Joel Hatch and his first secretary, long-time employee Nellie (Cantrell) Miller, provided insurance services for the local community. For a time Shirley Ogden, Nellie’s daughter, was also employed at Hatch Insurance Agency.
     When a fire damaged the building in the 1960s, the agency moved to its current location at 129 South Main Street.
     After graduating from Licking High School, serving in the military and working in St. Louis for a time, Robert Hatch, Joel’s youngest son, also came into the business in 1966. With the addition of Robert, who was a licensed agent, real estate business was also conducted out of the office. Robert, with the help of Nellie, handled the daily insurance and real estate needs, as Joel and Aileen had purchased a farm in Plato and Joel was not in the office every day. This all changed on November 14, 1968, when Robert was tragically killed. Joel then came back into the office full-time.

Photo by Christy Porter
This real estate sign was in use from 1967 – 1968, 
when Robert Hatch was an agent.
     Joel’s oldest son, Daniel (Doc) Hatch, who was teaching and working on his Ph.D. in Nebraska, came home immediately to help. He and his wife, Cookie, then purchased the insurance business in 1972. Insurance and education being a Hatch family heritage, Doc left the day-to-day operations in the fall of 1976, when he began teaching at Licking High School. Cookie was not directly involved with insurance but was a long-time nurse with Dr. B.J. Myers’ office and also worked at the school.
     Doc and Cookie were fortunate to “inherit” Nellie Miller, who helped successfully run the business until her retirement after approximately 50 years with the agency.
     The third generation joined the agency in 1987, when Melissa (Hatch) Lewis came to the family business out of college. In 2009, Doc’s son, David, joined the agency.
     The business has had several other employees through the years. Sue Steward was a dedicated, long-time employee, along with Marguerite Ogden and Paul Whitaker. The current agent is Tammy Branstetter. After graduation, Tammy’s first job was with Shield of Shelter; she remained in the industry over time and in May 1991 came to Hatch Insurance Agency with collective insurance experience. 
     Through the 1900s the agency offered auto, commercial, health and farm insurance. They now offer insurance services for auto, commercial, life, home, farm and also bonds.
     According to David, Melissa and Tammy, the insurance industry has changed over the years. One change is that prior to widespread technology advances, all policies were prepared by using manuals, books from each insurance provider, to attain quotes and individualized policies. Beginning in the 1990s the individual insurance companies would send computer discs for installation in individual office computers to provide information. Now, due to the internet, that information can be accessed and processed with a few keystrokes.
     They continue to write policies, inspect properties and help with the coordination of other insurance needs. What hasn’t changed is the security that people have in dealing with a local person for those needs. Nothing replaces the personal touch.
     David and Melissa remember coming into the office after school, until time to ride home with their dad. Stopping at Hood’s original building for a burger, fries, ice cream or shake was a special treat. But they also went to Hall’s Grocery Store or a small dollar store on Main Street for candy. Says Melissa, “This is very much a family and friends kind of business.”

Photo by Christy Porter
A framed collection of Hatch Insurance Agency promotional items are on 
display in the office. “We are thankful that our customers have shared the
 different promotional items with us,” says Melissa (Hatch) Lewis.
     Community services are also provided by Hatch Insurance Agency. The administrative details, such as fire department dues and finances, of the Licking Rural Fire Department are handled exclusively by the staff. If you haven’t yet paid your yearly fire department dues, stop by soon and do so.
     They also maintain the plat (map) for the Licking Cemetery. Aileen (Meadows) Hatch, Joel’s wife, was the secretary/treasurer of the Licking Cemetery and the maintenance of these records remain with Hatch Insurance Agency.
     Congratulations to Hatch Insurance Agency, three generations and 70 successful years.


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