Shannon Murray, the second-generation owner of Murray Insurance Services, proudly says, “Once you’re involved insurance, you’re in it for life.” He recently opened new offices on the site of what was, back in the early 1980s, his father’s office. The road to the new office has an interesting history.
Shannon’s father, Herman Murray, began selling life insurance policies for the Farm Bureau in Fort Lauderdale. In just a few years, he was named the No. 1 life insurance salesperson in the United States. The Farm Bureau offered him an agency and allowed him to pick its location. It was the early ‘70s, and helicopters weren’t common. But Herman went up for a flyover of Florida’s east coast and, looking at Martin County, decided that was where he would place his agency.
In 1974, realizing that the corporate world of insurance wasn’t for him, Herman left Farm Bureau and opened an independent insurance agency in Palm City. He became the first person in Florida to sign as an independent agent with Allstate, an alliance that has endured for 43 years. By 1975, he had expanded to Okeechobee and then to Indiantown.
In each office, employees were inspired by his confidence. His first hire in Indiantown, Muriel Alker, worked for him until her death 30 years later. Herman’s Okeechobee hires were Phyllis Bass, Shirley Vogel and Beth Maheu. Beth’s niece, Karli Rowell, currently works for Murray Insurance Services.
He soon added offices in Hobe Sound, Sebastian and Fort Pierce. But “floating” among six offices became too much, so he concentrated on keeping only two – one in Palm City, because it reached the coastal areas; and one in Okeechobee, because it was a successful area and fit his farming background. (Herman came from a family of chicken farmers in Delaware.)
You might remember the Okeechobee office, a house at 210 S.W. Second Street. He felt that his good reputation would bring people to him, through nothing more than word of mouth. And he was right. The office was in an old house, so everyone felt that going there was like arriving home; it fit the community. Herman’s wife was, by then, a licensed agent; it was she who created the Murray Insurance motto, “Service is our No. 1 policy.”
Shannon helped out also. He recalls, “I began as a file boy at a time when there were no computers to rely on. I did whatever jobs were necessary and picked up a lot of insurance knowledge at the same time. My brother, Shaun, became a pilot.”
Eventually, Shannon went to Indian River State College (IRSC) for two years. “I didn’t know what field I wanted to go into,” he said. “But I reasoned that you can still be successful without a degree. My father had a ready-made profession which was ever-evolving, so I joined it. The insurance profession teaches you facts and rules, but experience teaches you the dos and don’ts.”
Shannon joined the practice in 1989 and was licensed in 1991. He said, “Though she is now retired, Mom [Shirley] still comes in to help out, and many who knew my parents still stop by and ask about her. She is an encyclopedia of insurance and still keeps her license active.”
Although he bought the company from his father in 2001, they still worked together, but the 2004 hurricanes tore the roof off the old house and damaged it beyond use. Stormwater flooded desks and files, but it didn’t destroy the company. Murray Insurance Services needed an office to serve hurricane victims quickly, so Shannon rented an available site next to radio station WOKC on Park Street and opened up to provide help.
Not one of the various offices that Herman operated was on a main street. He always felt that an off-street location made clients feel they were coming in to see a person, not an office. Murray Insurance Services remained in the Park Street location for 13 years, but the Murrays always had the feeling they wanted to “go back home,” even though the old house had been torn down.
In 2007, Shannon’s father passed away, but his business ethics continued to inspire his wife and son. Finally, in 2017, they were able to “go back home” when they built a new, modern office on the same site where the old house had stood. Here, Murray Insurance Services still offers a wide variety of policies, including home, automobile, motor home, boat, commercial buildings and even more. Shannon said, “If you own it, we can insure it.”
Now, Shannon’s son Evan wants to go into the family business. He is currently attending IRSC to earn his degree in insurance. Daughter Tori, 11, entertains herself by “writing policies.” Shannon’s wife, Vicki, passed away in 2010.
Shannon said, “We want to keep on going another 43 years, into the third and fourth generation. We have gained a reputation of trust and will never stop insuring that.”