Livingston Insurance Agency was founded by Robert (Bob) and Raye Livingston on September 28, 1958. Bob was working for Siebels Bruce in the reinsurance department located on Main Street in Columbia, SC. He had a nice cubicle on the 13th floor. Raye was working in the Buying Department at Colonial Stores Warehouse on Shop Road in Columbia, SC.
They saw owning an insurance agency as a dual opportunity to be self-employed and help the public. With this mindset, Bob approached Dr. T.C. Whetshell , a very prominent business man in West Columbia, to see if he could buy his book of insurance business. Not only did he own T.C. Whetshell Insurance Agency, he also owned Whetshell Drug Store and helped start Lexington County Saving and Loan.
In order to buy Dr. Whetshell’s book of business, Dr. Whetshell took out a second mortgage on Bob and Raye’s home which they were able to pay this back within five years. When they had paid off Dr. Whetsell, Bob got in his car and went to every insured in the book of business to introduce himself. Dr. Whetshell became Bob and Raye’s friend and mentor. Unlike Bob, Raye had no experience in the insurance industry, so she was trained by the Porter Agency who managed The Hanover Insurance Company, which is where their book of business was insured.
Though they just started a new business, Bob wanted to further his career in the South Carolina National Guard, which he had been involved in since Raye first met him. He started attending the Palmetto Military Academy (PMA) and began taking correspondence classes to become eligible to be an officer. He also started working at Columbia Wilbert Vault Plant on the weekends to help supplement their income.
Everyone in the family was involved in working in some way to get the business running. Bob and Raye’s two children started to help out in the afternoons after school. Raye’s friend, Mrs. Aull, who worked at the children’s school, brought them to the office every day on her way home from school. There the children helped count the money, stamp envelopes and do form letters on the memograph machine.
The first physical location of Livingston Insurance Agency was at 108 State Street, West Columbia, SC, which is where they wrote their first policy to Mr. T.T. Dawson – and we are still insuring some of his family today! After being in business for a while and getting on their feet, the Livingston’s moved their agency to 324 State Street, West Columbia. They then purchased land and built the building at their present location at 100 Ninth Street, West Columbia in October of 1988.
After being in business for more than 50 years, Bob and Raye have seen much change in the insurance industry as a whole. When they started out in 1958, personal lines premiums were a minimum of $14.00, and there were only fire and auto policies. There were no homeowners policies, and any extended coverage was written and rated separately. The highest deductibles were $100 and the lowest ones were $50, unlike now when we have deductibles as high as $5,000 and as low as $250.
Being in the insurance industry helped Bob and Raye meet many amazing people whom they are proud to call their friends. The memories of these friendships will last forever. Their fondest memory occurred when Elizabeth Durham sent Joe Campbell into their lives. Mrs. Durham, an insured, called Raye one day and told her that she was working too hard and she needed some help, so Mrs. Durham was going to send Joe Campbell over to help her. She told Raye that he was going to do everything he could so Bob and Raye could focus on their business and not have to worry about anything. Through the love and care Mr. Campbell showed Bob, Raye, and their children, they were able to focus on their growing business while still balancing their family. Mr. Campbell was very instrumental not only in their lives but in the lives of their children. He taught their son everything from how to work on a truck engine to plumbing. Mr. Campbell was not your average run of the mill guy. He was a special person and friend who Mrs. Durham helped put in the Livingstons’ lives! He was the one catalyst that really helped them get the agency off the ground. Being in the insurance industry helped Bob and Raye meet many amazing people whom they are proud to call their friends.
Bob and Raye’s motto is that if you serve the public and you do a good job, the business will come and you will make a living. Their secret to doing a good job is hard work, long hours, and taking care of your customers. The best advice they can give anyone working with the public is, “You are taking people’s money. You have a responsibility to do the best you can to take care of them.”
The future is bright at Livingston Insurance Agency. The company remains in Livingston family hands, and we will always strive to live the same motto as our founders – Serving our customers and the public is our number one priority! We hope to have as much success in the future as Bob and Raye had in the first 54 years!