Krage Insurance in Lanesboro grows with addition of Chosen Valley Insurance


SUBMITTED PHOTO Lyman Hare sold his interest in the Chosen Valley Insurance Agency and has become an ad salesman for the Bluff Country Newspaper Group.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/NEWS LEADER Members of the Krage Insurance Agency are, from left, Jamie Sveen, Josh Krage, Ken Krage, Dale Krage and Alton Erickson. Krage Insurance Agency purchased Lyman Hare’s insurance interests earlier this spring.
By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Lyman Hare: Insurance agent due to a change of policy.

“I began selling insurance on May 8, 1978, but I started selling insurance in Chatfield on May 1, 1986. There was a job opening at Root River State Bank for an insurance manager to Northwest Security Agency,” recalled Hare. Hare recently retired from being an insurance agent at Chosen Valley Insurance in Chatfield, having sold his interests to Krage Agency in Lanesboro in April. Hare has gone on to become an ad salesman for Bluff Country Newspaper Group to fill his days.

The Wykoff graduate was an asset to his hometown, but also to his Chosen Valley hometown as well. “I was a personal loan officer at First State Bank in Wykoff and manager of their insurance agency. When I had to start collecting on past-due loans, it was a hard job for me to do, because in Wykoff, you are friends with everyone or related to everyone. That part of the job was hard on me, and at Root River State Bank, I did not have to do any collecting on loans. That was my only reason for the change in jobs.”

The challenges in insurance sales are “keeping your clients’ trust and hoping they weren’t just price shopping,” and keeping up with the changes in the industry, Hare noted.

“As an agent, you have to have continuing education classes, just as many professions do today,” he added. “The job has changed in very many ways, especially technology. Chatfield is growing so fast in population, but I hope the growth of the community will buy locally to keep businesses open. Chatfield is a wonderful community, and it seems to be moving in the right direction.”

He added, “There are so many rewarding parts of being an agent, but to be able to take care of your clients’ needs, and when you lock the door to your office at night, it’s knowing you have done your best for that day, and coming back the next day to a job you enjoy…that’s rewarding.”

Deciding to retire took some serious thought. “I was very happy for 41 years as an agent and, in insurance, you do learn something new almost weekly. I never regretted a day of it and will miss all the customers that had the trust in me to be their agent, but there comes a time when it’s time to retire, and this was the time. My age keeps creeping up on me – for which I am grateful – but 41 years is a long time, and it’s time to turn it over to some younger agents that I know will take care of the clients I had.”

Hare explained that the new owner of his agency, Krage Insurance Agency, is out of Lanesboro. “I have known them and worked with them indirectly,” he said. “They are honest and dependable. I felt they were the ones I wanted my clients to have as their agency. I had the chance to sell to a couple other agencies, but to me, Krage Insurance Agency will serve them best.”

Leaving the office he’d occupied for so many years was difficult. “It was hard. Very hard. The door was locked at 4:30 p.m. on April 30, and my wife, LuAnn, and I really didn’t want to be the one to lock the door for the last time, but one of us had to. I’m not saying which one did. Chatfield will always be a part of our lives. Our three children graduated from Chatfield. It’s the friends we made and the life we led, all with no regrets.”

He commented on what became of his time after he officially retired. “I have started to be an advertising salesperson for the Bluff Country Reader, and I am enjoying it very much. I’m still getting to make contact with new people and selling. That’s pretty much all I have done since I graduated in 1960-something, but when I left the insurance business and LuAnn started to make up a honey-do list, I knew it was time to start looking.”

Hare offered some advice to young people who might be interested in his former trade. “All new people, graduates from school – vocational school or college – just get out there and pick a job you like and do the best you can. And remember, if you are undecided, America can use a few good men and women in the services to our country.”

Krage Agency’s Dale Krage gave a brief history of his family’s insurance agency and reassured Hare’s clients that they will be given the same care as they were afforded at Chosen Valley Insurance. “The Krage Agency started in 1970 when Frederick Krage, an employee of the Preble Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance, obtained a contract from another company to write auto insurance. In 1979, the agency acquired the Erickson Agency from Arden Erickson, another employee of Preble Farmers’ Mutual. In 2008, we were given the opportunity to purchase and service both the Northwest Security Agency of Chatfield and the Johnson Insurance Agency of Fountain. In 2016, the agency took over the servicing of Henry ‘Hank’ Anderson’s insurance business in Chatfield after he passed away.”

He continued, “Both Lyman Hare and the Krage Insurance Agency, Inc., have been associated with the Chosen Valley Insurance Service since 1997. At that time, the Krage Agency purchased the Scott Insurance Service, which had been a longtime Chatfield agency operated first by Marshall Scott, and later, his son, Don Scott. About the same time, Lyman Hare approached us about continuing to run that agency in Chatfield. This was the beginning of the Chosen Valley Insurance Service, a part of the Krage Agency. For the first five years, Lyman worked as an employee of the agency. In 2002, he acquired an ownership interest in the agency. However, we continued to work together as one agency serving two communities. We represented the same companies and supported one another. One of the main companies both agencies represent is the Preble Farmer’s Mutual Fire Insurance, which the Krage Agency also manages out of its home office in Lanesboro.”

The major focus of the Krage Agency has always been to provide insurance protection to the people of southeast Minnesota, either through the Preble Farmers’ Mutual and/or other companies that offer types of insurance that Preble cannot, Krage explained.

Through the agencies and the company, people throughout southeast Minnesota can insure almost any type of risk, including farm, home, auto, business, crop, life, health, bonds and even aviation. “Through their real estate agency, Alton Erickson and Associates Real Estate Sales, they also help people sell and buy homes, farms and commercial properties,” Krage said. “The agency goal continues to be ‘Protection when you need it and service when you want it’.”

Krage offered contact information for clients and potential clients, stating, “With Lyman’s retirement, the Krage Agency is purchasing his interest in the Chosen Valley Insurance Service effective May 1, 2019, but will no longer maintain his Chatfield office. Our staff members are in the Chatfield area often and will be glad to stop at any home or business if requested. In addition, much insurance business can be conducted by telephone – we can be reached at 507-467-3309 or 507-867-4935, or online at agents@krageinsurance.com. In addition, everyone is welcome to visit our offices located at 205 North Parkway Avenue in Lanesboro, directly across from the theaters.”