The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Jul. 19, 2018

VW independent/submitted information

Auto-Owners Insurance announced that Leland Smith Insurance Services Inc. of Van Wert, has been named one of the Top 10 growth agencies for the Company in Ohio for 2017.

The agency was recognized at a luncheon meeting in Lima, and during a reception with all regional associates, where they and other recipients were presented with a plaque commemorating their accomplishment.  Leland Smith Insurance Services Inc. has represented Auto-Owners since 1996.

Shown is Kyle Strawn (center) of Leland Smith Insurance with Auto-Owners Insurance representatives Steve Speicher and Carolyn Muller. photo submitted

“Their growth and support only help to make the entire community stronger and more secure,” said Carolyn Muller, Auto Owners executive vice president, while also thanking the agency for its support and its business. “We are grateful they choose to do business with us.”

Celebrating more than 100 years in business, Auto-Owners Insurance was founded in 1916 and has served Ohio since 1936. Auto-Owners Insurance is a Fortune 500 company and is the 17th largest property  and casualty insurance company in the nation, based on written premium.

Auto-Owners Insurance is one of eight insurance companies in the United States to receive the highest rating possible, A++ Superior, by A.M. Best, a nationally recognized rating agency for insurance companies.

Auto-Owners is represented by more than 44,000 licensed agents in its 26 operating states. The company, which provides auto, home, business and life insurance to more than 2.7 million policyholders, is headquartered in Lansing, Michigan.

POSTED: 07/05/18 at 8:55 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Submitted information

The Van Wert Parks Department recognized Premier Turf Management LLC for its time and dedication to Fountain Park.

Gene Pool (front row, second in from left) and staff, along with Van Wert Maintenance Supervisor Jeremy Morefield (front row, left). photo submitted

Since the summer of 2016, Premier Turf Management has been responsible for fertilization and weed management of Fountain Park, and has donated time and equipment, free of charge, to help in beautifying the park.

Prior to 2016, broadleaf weeds controlled much of the turf in the park. Three summers later, the lawn has never looked better and is as healthy as it has ever been.   

Premier Turf Management owner Gene Pool and his staff of landscaping professionals provide a great service to the Parks Department and community of Van Wert by keeping the lawn of Fountain Park thriving. The Parks Department and Maintenance Supervisor Jeremy Morefield are very thankful for the time and energy that Pool and his staff put into Fountain Park.

If there is a need for landscaping management at a local business or home, give Pool and his staff a call at 419.749.2975 or visit the company’s website,, for guaranteed results.

POSTED: 07/05/18 at 8:51 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Shultz Huber & Associates, Inc. is pleased to announce four promotions. Rob Bourn, Kim Ray, Stacey Baer and Steve Samples have all been promoted from principal to shareholder. All four will continue to serve clients while increasing their leadership roles with the firm.

Steve Samples

Stacey Baer

Bourn, a Certified Public Accountant at the Defiance office, joined the firm in 2007 and is experienced in financial accounting, as well as federal, state, and local income tax areas. He works with clients in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, professional services, real estate and construction.

Bourn is a graduate of the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. He is a member of The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is the past president of the Wauseon Chamber of Commerce, a member of Defiance Premier Networking and a member of NetSense, a professional business network.

Ray, a CPA at the St. Marys office, joined Siefring and Associates in 2004, which was acquired by Shultz Huber & Associates Inc. in November 2015. Ray prepares business and individual tax returns and financial statements; offers consulting services for businesses and individuals; and conducts estate and tax planning. She specializes in agriculture, manufacturing, construction and service industries.

Ray is a graduate of Wright State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance and a master’s in business administration. She is a member of The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and St. Marys Rotary Club.

Rob Bourn

Kim Ray

Baer, a CPA at the Van Wert office, joined the firm in 1998. She assists large and small businesses in a variety of industries with individual and business accounting and tax preparation, financial reporting, payroll assistance, and software consulting, evaluation and implementation as well as sales, mergers and acquisitions. Baer is also a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Baer is a graduate of Defiance College with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and marketing. She is a member of The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She currently serves on the Van Wert County YWCA Finance Committee, is treasurer of the Van Wert Youth Football Association, and treasurer for the Van Wert Football Tailgate Tour.

Samples, also a CPA at the Van Wert office, joined the firm in 1995. He provides accounting and tax services to businesses in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, agriculture and franchise operations. Samples also heads the firm’s forensic accounting services.

He is a graduate of Miami University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Samples is a member of The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the American College of Forensic Examiners.  He is involved with the Van Wert Rotary Club and is the treasurer for the Van Wert Community Improvement Corporation.

“Over the past three years, our firm has experienced growth, not only in the number of clients we serve, but also in our team, service offerings and service footprint,” said Barb Kohnen, president of Shultz Huber & Associates. “Rob, Kim, Stacey and Steve have been instrumental in helping navigate that growth, and we are excited for them to take a larger leadership role as we plan for the firm’s future.”

Shultz Huber & Associates, Inc. is a full-service accounting, tax and business consulting CPA firm specializing in assisting businesses and their owners plan for their future and achieve their goals in an ever-changing financial and regulatory environment. Offices are located in Archbold, Bryan, Defiance, St. Marys and Van Wert, with eight shareholders and 60 employees.

POSTED: 06/09/18 at 8:05 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

“Connecting the Dots” was the message at the Central Mutual Insurance Company’s annual policyholders’ meeting held May 9 in Van Wert.

President and Chairman of the Board F.W. Purmort noted the “dots” represent the different facets of the company: its values, its people, the actions it takes, and the results it hopes to achieve.

“Each dot has value,” said Purmort. “They connect what we value with what we want our company to be. The ideals of integrity, relationships, and excellence resonate in everything we do as individuals and as a company to maintain the financial strength to provide security, protection, and peace of mind to our policyholders.”

Purmort noted the company grew the strength of its Policyholders’ Security Fund by 10.6 percent to an all-time high of $822 million. The fund not only allows the company to be adequately prepared to respond to a catastrophe, but to maintain a long-term viewpoint on products and pricing, as well as the ability to invest in the future.

“Connecting our value proposition to the people we serve drives the actions that produce positive results,” Purmort said. “It’s a simplistic but challenging plan in the market we’re in, but we’ve executed it successfully.”

In conclusion, Purmort thanked policyholders for their investment in the company and noted that Central will continue to connect the dots and deliver on its promise.

“We have a fantastic group of people who come to work and do much more than just show up,” he said. “We solve problems and create solutions. We interact with our partners and customers who want to help us make this company more than it was yesterday. That is a great connection.”

Thad Eikenbary, vice president and treasurer, began the treasurer’s report by stating, “I am pleased to report that Central Mutual continued to add to its outstanding financial position in calendar year 2017.”


POSTED: 05/26/18 at 1:41 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Keister & Baker Law Office welcomes a new attorney to its firm. Justin Dickman recently joined the firm as an associate attorney after he was sworn in at Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. In his new role, he will practice in areas that include real estate, estate planning, and business law.

New attorney Justin Dickman is sworn in by Van Wert County Common Pleas Judge Martin Burchfield. photo provided

Dickman graduated from Ohio Northern University’s College of Law in December 2011. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications, graduating summa cum laudefrom Youngstown State University in 2009 and is a 2006 Van Wert High School alumnus.

Prior to his employment at Keister & Baker Law Office, Dickman had been a licensed attorney in Michigan since May 2012, where he most recently was the legislative counsel for the Michigan Townships Association. Dickman has extensive experience serving on staff for both state and federal legislators, serving as a law clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives and as chief of staff and legislative director in the Michigan Senate.

Dickman is married to Dr. Rachel (White) Dickman, who is originally from New Lothrop, Michigan. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow in education policy at the University of Southern California and will soon join the faculty at Old Dominion University as a tenure track professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership. The couple now resides in Van Wert.

Dickman is the son of Denny and Maribeth Dickman of Van Wert County and the brother of Brittany (Dickman) Adams of Herndon, Virginia.

“I am ecstatic to be back home in Van Wert,” Dickman said. “It has been a dream of mine to come to my home town and serve friends and neighbors through the practice of law.

“Van Wert County is a great place to be a part of a community and raise a family. Keister & Baker is an exceptional firm and I am thrilled to join the team,” he added.

Dickman joins attorneys Steve Keister, Aaron Baker, and Keri McClure.

POSTED: 05/17/18 at 9:38 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

Purmort Brothers Insurance Agency was named the winner of the Blue Streak Circle of Achievement Regional Agency of the Year award. The Agency of the Year award is Central Mutual Insurance Company’s highest honor and annually recognizes the agency that has demonstrated superior performance in production, retention, customer service, and underwriting. Purmort Brothers Insurance Agency’s consistent commitment to these areas has earned them the honor of receiving this award. Purmort Brothers Insurance Agency has been recognized as one of the most trusted, locally owned insurance agencies in northwest Ohio. For more than 143 years, the agency has built strong and loyal relationships with its customers, companies, and the community. Shown are (from the left) Michele Purmort-Mooney, Purmort Brothers CEO; and Dianne K. Byrne, senior account specialist, and Deidra Gunderman, personal lines underwriter, at Central Insurance Company. photo provided

POSTED: 05/17/18 at 9:33 pm. FILED UNDER: Business

The Convoy Business Association welcomed a new business, McCoy Automotive, this week. Quality services business owner Taylor McCoy provides includes dent repair, rust repair, mechanical work, bedliner spray for pickups, rocker liners, painting, patch panels, and rebuilds, quality work. Those interested can call for an appointment at 567.259.7895.Shown are (from the left) Jason Burns, McCoy, Max Oberly, and David Kulwicki. photo provided

POSTED: 05/09/18 at 7:53 am. FILED UNDER: Business, News

VW independent/submitted information

The Central Insurance Companies was recently awarded the prestigious Best Practices Award of Excellence from the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”). This is the 11th consecutive year the company has received this award.

Evan Purmort (right), vice president and Northeast Regional Office manager for Central, accepts the Best Practices Award of Excellence from Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. photo provided

The award recognizes those companies that have made imaginative, outstanding, and unique contributions in advocating Best Practices philosophies that enhance the independent agency system. The Big “I” Best Practices Program provides performance benchmarks and business strategies that serve as a guide to improving agency performance. Central was one of only five insurance carriers nationwide to receive the award.

Central has long been a supporter of the Best Practices program, sharing these best practices concepts with agents through education and business consulting, its website, and monthly agency newsletters.

Central’s Vibrant Personal Lines Program, in consultation with Reagan Consulting Inc., uses the Best Practices studies to educate agencies on developing and growing their personal lines books of business. Throughout the years, the response has been very positive and the program has proven to be beneficial to both Central and the agencies who have participated.

Central Mutual Insurance Company was founded in 1876, and has evolved into the Central Insurance Companies, a successful property and casualty group providing insurance for more than 350,000 automobiles, homes, and businessesin 23 states. Central is based in Van Wert, Ohio and operates regional offices in Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, and Van Wert. The Central group of companies has combined assets of over $1 billion. Central’s A.M. Best rating is A (Excellent).

POSTED: 05/03/18 at 8:47 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Staffmark, a leading provider of staffing services, announces the addition of six new computer kiosk stations in Van Wert. These kiosks can be used by applicants to submit job applications online and complete their hiring paperwork in the office.

“We have seen tremendous growth throughout the entire Van Wert area,” said Nicole Bristoll, Staffmark branch manager. “These new kiosks will allow us to keep pace with this growth and provide additional job opportunities for our employees.

“Having six kiosks will allow us to take walk in candidates and allow the candidates to complete the process same day,” she added. “We are excited about this opportunity.”

The addition of the six kiosks will allow the office to accept walk-in applicants daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., instead of having to make appointments, offering employment opportunities to the citizens of Van Wert and the surrounding areas.

There will be a ribboncutting and grand opening celebration on Friday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m. at the Staffmark office. The public is invited to attend.

POSTED: 05/03/18 at 8:43 am. FILED UNDER: Business

VW independent/submitted information

Van Wert Health Pediatrics is proud to welcome Teri Grothaus, Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP), to its pediatric team in Van Wert. Grothaus will join pediatric providers Jane Sande, M.D., and Allison Harting, Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP).

Teri Grothaus

“We are excited to have Teri join our pediatric team,” shared Dr. Sande.  “She has a gentle and kind-hearted way of working with patients that makes children and their families feel comfortable.”

Grothaus received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix and received her Master of Science degree from Wright State University in Dayton.

Prior to joining the Van Wert Health pediatrics practice, Grothaus worked for Pediatrics of Lima as a CPNP; at Lutheran Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit; and at Dayton Children’s Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

In addition to more than 24 years of experience working with patients, Grothaus is also a national spokesperson for Safe Haven Baby Boxes and has participated in several medical mission trips to Guatemala with Refuge International, a non-profit organization based out of Longview, Texas.

“I love what I do and am thrilled to be caring for patients at the Van Wert Health Pediatric practice,” Grothaus noted. “I see myself as both a healthcare provider and an advocate for patients and their families.

“It’s important to me to not only treat acute illnesses, but to teach healthy habits early on for each of my patients,” she added.

Grothaus spent much of her early childhood living in the Van Wert area and is a graduate of Delphos Jefferson High School.

“I’m thrilled to return to Van Wert and to see many familiar faces,” Grothaus said. “My first pediatric nursing position was at Van Wert Health in 1993. Though a lot has changed since then, I can confidently say that it’s so good to be home.”

POSTED: 04/30/18 at 7:14 am. FILED UNDER: Business