By Nancy Raiden Titus
Journal Record Staff Reporter
A new name is coming to 125 Park Ave.
The 81-year-old Oklahoma City insurance agency doing business
for years as McEldowney, McWilliams, Deardeuff Journey Inc.
will become Hilb, Rogal Hamilton Co. of Oklahoma on Jan. 1.
The agency merged with the Richmond, Va.-based Hilb Rogal firm
three years ago, so the planned name change does not indicate a
change in ownership or operation. Rather, it is being done to
provide consistency with the national organization.
"At the end of three years, all our clients know who we are,"
said William Chaufty, president. "Our companies (insurance
carriers) know who we are, and most of our prospects know who we
are. They know the success we've had, and they know the legal
name of the company.
"HRH, on a national scale, is much more prominent than
McEldowney, McWilliams, Deardeuff Journey. In fact, we're
probably losing out because we haven't changed our name."
Customers will see the change as a flip-flop on the company's
letterhead. Since the 1989 merger, it has read: McEldowney,
McWilliams, Deardeuff Journey, a Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton
Company. After Jan. 1, it will read: Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton Co.
of Oklahoma, a continuation of McEldowney, McWilliams, Deardeuff
Perpetuation of the agency was the primary reason McEldowney
McWilliams pursued the merger with Hilb Rogal in the first place,
"Agencies always have to think about perpetuation."
The issue that brought the perpetuation discussion to a head
at the Oklahoma City firm was a stroke James McEldowney had in
1984. His stake in the company was purchased by Bill McWilliams,
Stan Deardeuff and Dwight Journey through a loan from United
States Fidelity and Guaranty Co., one of its carriers.
Chaufty said the firm wanted to find another way to ensure
continuation without going through the constant cycle of
incurring debt in order to purchase the shares of a senior
The Hilb Rogal merger fit that bill. The company offered the
Oklahoma clients of McEldowney McWilliams the advantages of being
part of a national organization that was publicly traded. Yet it
also left control firmly in Oklahoma City. The merger was done
through a stock trade in a pooling of interest, and was one in
which "no one came; no one left."
The public aspect of Hilb Rogal meant that employees could buy
or sell stock as they chose.
"Now we can look at the paper and see what we're worth. We can
see the HRH stock. This also gives us the ability to sell a
retiring owner's stock because there is a market for it. And
employees _ or clients _ can own stock."
Hilb Rogal's decentralized management style made the merger
"the most viable way of perpetuation," Chaufty said. "They
understand that. Who else would know better how to run an agency
in Oklahoma City than we who have done it all these years?"
The merger thus solved half of the perpetuation problem.
Chaufty said the other half is recruiting and retaining the best
people to keep the business going.
The McEldowney McWilliams firm dates back to an agency founded
in 1911 by Ed N. Semans. Ancel Earp, who became adjutant general
of the Oklahoma National Guard at the age of 23, purchased the
company in 1924.
The firm was known as Ancel Earp and Co. until 1959 when it
merged with the McEldowney Gilliland Agency and became Ancel
Earp, McEldowney Associates Inc. At that time it was one of the
largest agencies in the Southwest. …