A Bluffton Main Street business is one month old on Aug. 1. Fortman Insurance Services, Inc., of Ottawa, opened a branch office at 115 N. Main St., Bluffton, in the former Book Reviews store front on July 1.
Catherine Fortman of the company told The Icon that due to the expanding number of clients outside Putnam County, the need to expand to a second location made sense. Instead of expanding in Ottawa, the company chose to open a branch in downtown Bluffton.
Fortman said her husband, John, founder of the business, and their two sons started discussing the idea of opening up another office. One thing led to another and they decided, "Well maybe this is what we need to do." She added that the idea to have an office in Bluffton made sense to the Fortmans as they have several clients in this area.
"We're very excited; we love the community of Bluffton. We're looking forward to being involved in the Bluffton community," she said. Bluffton's proximity to Lima and Findlay was another reason for opening an office here, according to Fortman as the business has several clients in those areas also.
Fortman Insurance entered its second generation as a family business when Jonathan Fortman, son of John and Catherine, joined the company after graduating from Bowling Green State University in 2003.
He is a licensed health and life agent and works with businesses and individuals with medical insurance and ancillary (vision, dental, short and long-term disability) coverages.
Jonathan's wife, Branden, is the Bluffton office manager. "Branden has 12 years experience in the medical and life insurance business, including working for Cigna Insurance in Group Ancillary Sales since 2005," Fortman said. Working from the Bluffton office, she will continue to work with individual and group medical insurance and the ancillary coverages.
"Our second son, Zachary, has become a valuable part of the team after joining us last September," said Fortman. He is a licensed property and casualty agent.
The company has five additional licensed agents. They are Laurie Basinger, Kathy Green, Amy Baker, Pam Eickholt and Sam Brauen. Laura Kuhlman, works in customer service.
John Fortman started Fortman Insurance in 1978, and Catherine joined him in 1982. After leasing buildings in downtown Ottawa and in the Westrick Realty Building, Ottawa, in 1991, the company built its current Ottawa office on State Route 65. In 2004, Fortman doubled the size of its building and added on to the original building.
The business expects to "float" a couple of agents from the Ottawa office to the Bluffton office a few days of the week. All the Fortmans, Brauen, Eickholt, Basinger, Green and Baker are all likely candidates to visit the Bluffton office and Branden Fortman will be here full time.
Bluffton office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends and evenings by appointment.
The Fortman Insurance Services team, front row from left, Laura Kuhlman, Pam Eickholt, Amy Baker, Kathy Green and Laurie Basinger.
Second row from left, Zachary Fortman, Jonathan Fortman, Branden Fortman, John Fortman, Catherine Fortman and Sam Brauen.