STATE FARM INSURANCE in Durand will open the doors of its expansive, newly renovated downtown Durand office on Monday, Sept. 24, at 209 N. Saginaw Street. Being located in the city’s historic downtown district has allowed owner Bart Harris to use State Farm’s special edition, black façade signage, which can be seen on the front of the agency’s new downtown Durand storefront.

(Courtesy Photo)

 

by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

Bart Harris’ State Farm Insurance Agency has greeted visitors to the city of Durand at the north end of town since 2009, operating out of a converted century-old residential home. As of Monday, Sept. 24, however, Bart and his team will reside at their new State Farm Insurance office at 209 N. Saginaw St., the former home of the Railroader Restaurant.

The new office offers approximately twice the square footage compared to Harris’ office at 805 N. Saginaw St., and plenty of natural light. The former restaurant has been completely transformed into a modern industrial-style office, with high ceilings, brick walls, up-cycled metal light fixtures, and exposed rafters and ductwork.

The interior of the office is modeled after a downtown, with each individual office representing its own storefront. Bart and his wife, Joanie, completed the design by incorporating historic State Farm relics, customized art pieces, and other unique or sentimental items Bart has accumulated in his 42 years with State Farm.

The Harrises used reclaimed materials in the renovation whenever possible, and they got creative in other instances. Joanie cleaned up and customized the existing brick walls, and she created wall art from old barn wood. Bart modified large, outdated high bay light fixtures to hold LED bulbs. Other notable features include a customized sliding barn door for Bart’s office and faux shiplap walls made from ripped plywood.

Bart started with State Farm in 1976 as a physical damage appraiser and went on to spend time as a trainer, a claims supervisor and a consultant before opening his own office.

Bart says he and Joanie “didn’t have a clue what we were doing” back then, but Bart’s outside-the-box thinking and natural communication skills led him to pioneer the practice of agent-client relationship building, which has now become a common practice of State Farm agencies.

Bart’s practice of building relationships has organically led to steady growth for the company, and it is one of the main reasons for the move downtown. And despite Bart and Joanie nearing the age of retirement, those relationships have made it difficult for the Harrises to hang up their red shirts.

“Durand has been good to us,” Bart shared during the week leading up to the move. “Joanie and I are of retirement age, but we aren’t quite ready to call it quits just yet. We live in the area and our family is close-by, plus I really believe Durand has big things in store for it in the coming years, so I look at this as a great opportunity to be a part of the city’s growth.”

Durand Insurance Agency Moves Downtown was last modified: September 24th, 2018 by Karen Elford