Launched on New Year’s Day in 1982, a new general agency opened with great excitement in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Burlington native W.E. Love, Jr., or “Dub” as he hailed within the truck insurance world, was ready to “do it again, but this time a little better” with his formations of W. E. Love and Associates, Inc. (WEL). A few great (read that stable) markets and a few trusted (read that honest with good credit) retailers was his recipe for WEL. He was 56 years old at the time having grown up, worked with, and learned from some of the very best insurance minds of their respective generations.
A Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Lake Champlain during World War II, Dub (southern short for W. E.) married his high school sweetheart, Ann, in 1944 and began his insurance career in Burlington in 1950. By the time WEL was formed, Mr. Love had established himself as one of the best, and best known, truck insurance men in the business. Dub was involved with the true formation of Carolina Casualty Insurance Company in the 1950s, Seaboard Underwriters, Bankers and Shippers Insurance Company in the ’60s, Penn General Agency in the 1970s and Universal Insurance Company in the ’80s. His motto: “Pay your bills on time and always tell the truth so you don’t have to remember what you said.”
People often wonder why so much insurance industry is located in little Burlington, NC. Dub had a big hand in and watched it all evolve over a seventy-year span. The “insurance” that exists in Burlington today originally emanated from the need for motor truck cargo insurance by the tobacco hauling truckers right after World War II. A couple of “Yankees,” Chris Baylor (who was a founder of Carolina Casualty Insurance Company) and Bob Halyburton (who became Dub’s senior partner at Seaboard Underwriters), moved to Burlington and began calling on both retail agents and insureds in their successful efforts to place cargo coverage for Middle Atlantic states trucking risks. In those days, cigarettes were “the” target commodity. Mr. Halyburton, it seems, was the first person in the insurance industry who suggested freight be locked while in transit, rather than just “sealed.” After Dub went to work with Bob in 1950, they began to assemble a truck insurance team that would include folks such as Joe Simnor (who later became the first president of AI Transport), Dick Edens (later the senior partner in Reinsurance Intermediaries, Inc.), Will Darrah, Len Davis, Virginia Grady, Bill Schmidt, and Jerry Chappell, just to name a few. Local pioneers such as Bill Vickery of Burlington Insurance Group, Flip Hogan, whose Dad also worked with Dub, and Jay Johnson, one of our country’s most successful reinsurance brokers know well the impact Mr. Love had upon the wholesale trucking insurance industry. Incidentally, way back in 1957, Dub met a great guy named Bill Timmons while both were visiting the Virginia Casualty Company. In exchange for Dub putting in a good word for Timmons at VCC, Bill gave Dub a contract to a little company his agency in South Carolina owned: Canal Insurance Company! Thus, Dub became the first appointed agent for Canal in North Carolina and remained continuously appointed for the next 56 years!
WEL was founded with that Canal contract, which was originally penned in Dub’s personal name. John Love, Dub’s youngest son, joined us during our first year in September 1982 and has been President of WEL since 1992. Because we’ve been around so long and in one place, there are many success (and some horror) stories worth sharing about the history of insurance in Burlington! When you visit, we usually manage to laugh at a few.
Our workday motto has always read: “Like what you do and do it well.” WEL became the first general agency to receive the designation of Certified Managing General Agency from the American Association of Managing General Agents in 1987. Today, we honor WEL’s historic contribution to our community’s insurance heritage by embracing every aspect of a thorough, efficient and friendly work environment. Certainly, Burlington owes much of its significant insurance presence to Dub, but in return, life here continues to be pretty darn good for all of us. Come visit us and judge for yourself. You see, rather than just telling the old stories, we like making new ones, too!