Ruhl Insurance celebrates 75 years as a family-owned insurance agency

By on August 8, 2018

Ruhl Insurance Agency, 26-28 Market Square, Manheim, celebrates a milestone this year. The locally-owned and operated independent insurance agency is celebrating its 75th year in business. To help mark this business milestone, the Manheim Chamber is hosting an After 5 event, from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15.

“Long-time members and community partners of the business community like Ruhl Insurance make Manheim the great place to do business that it is. We congratulate and look forward to celebrating with Ruhl Insurance on their 75th Anniversary,” said Manheim Chamber spokesperson Kelly Lauver.

Ruhl’s is a family-owned business. Current president and CEO Nevin Dourte represents the third generation in the business, while his son, Reuben, is the fourth generation. Nevin Dourte said Reuben has spent countless hours researching the agency’s history using the Manheim Historical Society’s archives. The historical information he gleaned is posted on the company’s website, and a portion is shared here.

Ruhl Insurance is located in the 1880s building that originally housed George Danner’s store. This archival photo shows the building as Danner’s store. The photo is displayed in the entryway at Ruhl Insurance. (Submitted image)

History

Ruhl Insurance was founded in 1943 by Jacob “Jake” Ruhl, who purchased C. Raymond Geib’s agency from his widow after his death. The agency originally offered insurance, real estate, tax preparation and notary services. Along with four other businessmen, Jake Ruhl was one of the original partners in the Manheim Auto Auction in 1945. Agency operations were transitioned to Jake’s son, Donald, in 1959.

As the agency grew, more office space was needed. It was originally located in an annex of the Summy House on South Main Street. In 1946, it relocated to 18 S. Main St., occupying the first floor, while Donald and his wife, Janice, lived on the second and third floors. In 1983, Ruhl Insurance moved to its current office on Market Square.

“Being on the Square is an added value — it’s the center of town,” Nevin Dourte said.

He recalled that the 1880s brick building had previously housed Dollar General, and a Silco department store, but to many it’s also known as the Danner Building — the location where George H. Danner operated a turn-of-the-century mercantile store.

“A lot of the credit for the renovation of the building to what you see today belongs to my mother-in-law, Janice. She was instrumental in the renovation and strove to preserve some of the historic character of the building,” Dourte said as he pointed to exposed brick walls.

There are also pieces of the structure’s history scattered throughout, including Danner’s imposing safe. Some items sport the Ruhl Insurance Company’s name as well. He explained that earlier this year, a circa 1970 soap box derby car that Ruhl’s sponsored became part of the collection. It’s not on display in the building yet, but Dourte said it may make an appearance at a community event.

Ruhl’s in the community

“Ruhl’s has always been active in the community,” he said.

One of example of the agency’s community commitment can be seen at the Manheim Community Farm Show parade. Since the 1970s, the agency has sponsored a wagon pulled by a team of horses. Ruhl’s also is sponsors Family Fun Night at the Farm Show.

Dourte joined the agency in 1988 and has seen a number of shifts in the business — some of them attributed to changes in the marketplace, and others attributed to expansion into other sectors and states.

“When Jake started, it was a general agency. We’ve expanded to fit the needs of our clients. We now offer personal lines as well as agriculture and commercial insurance,” he said.

Reuben said under his father’s leadership the company’s core business area has expanded from south central Pennsylvania to include the Mid-Atlantic. Since 2001, the agency has been a member of Keystone Insurers Group, which Reuben said provides access to professionals through the country with expertise in a wide variety of areas.

“It allows us to provide comprehensive insurance solutions for local communities and their residents,” he said.

“We’re a ‘hometown agency with national resources’, and we know our clients by name rather than a number,” Nevin added.

In 2011, the agency went “fully paperless,” with all-digital files. Reuben stressed that data is securely stored.

“Having digital files is more efficient and allows us to better serve our clients,” he said.

“A lot has changed,” Nevin said, “but we remain committed to Jake’s philosophy — our ethical responsibility to our clients, (our) employees, and our companies must always exceed our legal obligations. It was the right way to do business then, and it is the right way to conduct business now. Part of our success is also attributed to our staff; they’re incredibly committed, and we work as a team.”

To attend the Manheim Chamber’s Aug. 15 After 5 event, marking Ruhl Insurance’s 75th anniversary, RSVP to 717-665-6330 or via email: info@manheimchamber.com.

Ruhl Insurance celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The agency’s headquarters is in this historic building at 26-28 Market Square. (Photo by Rochelle Shenk)

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