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President David Bissaillon at Smith Brothers-McAndrews Insurance's offices on Park Street. The agency is celebrating 125 years.

Smith Brothers-McAndrews Insurance Marks 125 Years in Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — Smith Brothers-McAndrews Insurance is celebrating 125 years of business and of serving the community.
 
"We are getting old," President David Bissaillon joked. "For me, it is a source of pride to be the current owner when we are having such an important anniversary."
 
Bissaillon gave the "short version of a long story" and said the firm was founded by brothers Peter and Fred Smith back in 1896.
 
"Ironically Peter was a Republican and Fred was a Democrat. They got along well enough to make things work then so there is no reason why we can't make things work now," Bissaillon laughed. "They were active community members, and I think that is a trait that has continued 125 years later." 
 
In 1937, then state Sen. James McAndrews started his own agency. The two merged in 1962 and a host of different managers have been in charge since.
 
Michael McAndrews took the helm in the 1960s and then Bruce McAndrews took over in the 1990s. Next came President Bernie Pinsonnault.
 
Bissaillon, who has a background in the insurance industry and economic development, came on board in 2011 and purchased the business from Pinsonnault in 2018.
 
"We have always had good people working here. There has always been strong local staff of professionals," Bissaillon said. "People like and trust the continuity of having good people. I think that is what kept the business going all of these years."
 
He said there are fewer small independent insurance agencies around, and he is happy to be one of them.
 
"Many of them are owned by banks, credit unions, and venture capitalists," he said. "The fact that we are truly an independent agency, a small business, is a source of pride for all of us. It is a great thing for us to be serving and taking care of our neighbors and friends."
 
He said although it is small, SBM provides a personal touch usually not seen in larger establishments.
 
"It is always a nice feeling honestly in this day and age you can still genuinely help people when things go wrong," he said. "I like that feeling." 
 
Bissaillon said technology has changed the way agency has done business over the years and how people research insurance. But there is still nothing like face-to-face service, he said.
 
"Meeting personally, whether it be with a young person buying their first home, a  young family purchasing a vehicle, or a business owner -- that face to face is still very important," he said. "We are also helping people when the worst things have happened ... and it is very important for people to have a person that they know and a local number they can call ...
 
"That won't change with technology, having good people with empathy is important."
 
Bissaillon said the ownership of the agency has always been active in the community and believes in reinvesting in it. He's proud to be in Adams on Park Street.
 
"This is exciting for me as a native and a lifelong resident of Adams," he said. "To be able to continue as an Adams business that has been around so long is a source of pride for me ... It is exciting, and I thank the entire staff who have brought us this far."
 
SBM is planning a yearlong celebration to mark the milestone and hopes to have some sort of gathering once public health data allows.
 
Bissaillon said he is looking toward the future, especially with another Bissaillon in the SBM ranks, his son, Tyler. He said he is excited for another 125 years. 
 
"I am thankful for the community, our staff, and our customers," he said. "We started as a good corporate citizen and that has been instilled in the bones of this agency for all of the 125 years. That is important, especially in these times and we will continue to give back."
 

Tags: anniversary,   insurance,   

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Increased COVID-19 Cases Cause Adams to Slip Back Into Red

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass.— Board of Health Chairman David Rhoads is urging residents to stay vigilant as Adams slips into the red level designation for COVID-19.
 
"It is always disheartening to convey bad news, but we are in the red here in Adams," Rhoads said at the Selectmen's meeting Wednesday. "We are definitely in a surge."
 
Rhoads said the town has been reporting a new case every day for the past three weeks.
 
Rhoads spoke directly to residents over livestreamed meeting and asked them to continue adhering to hygiene and social distancing guidelines to stop the spread, especially now that more aggressive variants have touched down in Berkshire County.
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