By Tom Donaldson
Atlantic News, Tuesday, February 21, 1995
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]
[Atlantic News Photo by Howie McGee]
HAMPTON -- In 1920 Dean B. Merrill formed a partnership in the insurance business with Herbert Tobey, who for twelve years had been serving Hampton insurance clients. They started out in the little we now know as Bob's Barbershop (formerly 'Earl's')and proceeded to grow in reputation and stature for the next 75 years, the anniversary of which they celebrate this year as the second oldest business in Hampton.
As the partnership grew with the town until 1936, the agency moved first into the old Odd Fellows Building, on Lafayette Road, and then in 1965 to the Hampton Cooperative Bank building (now First National Bank of Portsmouth [in 1995]). In 1987 with Russell Merrill, the president of the firm, it was moved to its present location at 20 High Street, Hampton. It was the former home and office of Dr. Wayne Bryer, well-known Hampton physician.
At present, Dean Merrill II is president and manager of commercial insurance lines, and his brother, Geoffrey, is vice president, and responsible for personal lines. Their father Russell is "retired," but comes into the office regularly when he is in town. "I don't know what we would do without him" said his son.
The independent firm has twelve companies with whom they place business, and are always looking for other companies who will help provide better service for Tobey and Merrill clients. "We have very competitive prices and excellent service through the companies we represent, but it is the people in this office who make the business," says Merrill. The office employs ten people, plus seven independent agents who service some 3,000 customers in the Seacoast area.
In its seventy-fifth year, Tobey and Merrill looks to the future with new possibilities for continuance of the solid base of trust it has built over the years. "Our focus this year is to get out and reintroduce ourselves to the community," said Merrill. The company has already given donations honoring the anniversary and is taking part in The Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Kiwanis, and Independent Insurance Agents of New Hampshire, of which Dean Merrill II is president this year.
At its fiftieth anniversary celebration, Dean Merrill said, "The end result of fifty years of service to the people of the Seacoast area is not so much that we have had a reasonable degree of success, but rather that we have done business with a lot of nice people and have made many lasting friendships. To our many past and present customers we extend our sincere thanks for the confidence you have reposed in our agency. Our continued aim in the years ahead will be to provide the best in insurance protection and to render our service with a smile." That has not changed -- twenty-five years later.