VOL. 110 | NO. 219 | Tuesday, November 12, 1996
lj 10/5 cates
A family firm
Local real estate investment and insurance firm celebrates two milestones in companys history
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
Preparations are underway at Sneed, Robinson and Gerber Inc., a Sneed Co., to celebrate two important anniversaries in the local companys history.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the companys move to the Bartlett area, and in 1997, the company will enter its 40th year in the insurance, real estate and investment business.
"Weve been in business 40 years this month, and were very happy with our presence here in Bartlett," said company president George W. Sneed Jr. "It started out as an opportunity to do something that was of interest to me and has turned into something that has grown considerably."
Sneed, Robinson & Gerber, through its Sneed Cos. divisions Choice-Sneed, Robinson & Gerber Inc., Choice Homes Inc. and Memphis Underwriters Inc., offers programs for commercial, industrial, business and personal insurance, as well as real estate brokerage, residential construction and financial planning services.
Sneed, a native Memphian with a bachelors degree from the University of Memphis, started the company 1957 with his father-in-law, Thomas L. Robinson, a Memphis attorney and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, appointed by John F. Kennedy.
From its original headquarters at 243 Adams Ave. Downtown, Sneed, Robinson & Gerber acquired several additional insurance agencies and experienced a steady increase in volume, Sneed said.
The companys ever-expanding list of services now includes commercial, industrial and personal property fire, casualty, surety, marine and aviation insurance coverage, and its financial planning and investment services include setting up mutual funds, variable annuities and pension plans.
The company also has designed several national insurance programs, and its Memphis Underwriters division is devoted to filling the insurance needs of special risk people, places and things, such as race horses, hot-air balloons, entertainment events and golf tournaments.
However, the bulk of the companys business comes from property and casualty insurance for industrial and commercial properties, Sneed said.
"Weve chosen avenues that we believe will lead us to constant markets, so to speak," Sneed said. "These days, the industry is very competitive there are considerably more insurance companies in business today than there were 40 years ago."
The companys real estate division owes its success in part to the companys decision in 1990 to restructure the amount of sales commissions it charged as a residential broker. Home sellers are offered a choice of paying a 4 percent, 4.5 percent or 6 percent sales commission, with no reduction in service for the lower percentage commissions.
"The decision to modify our commission program has been extremely beneficial since its implementation," said Macky Sneed, the divisions managing broker. "Since we began offering this program, each year we have increased our volume,"
This year, the Choice Homes residential construction division was established and currently is building homes in the $200,000 to $250,000 range in the Bailey Station subdivision in Collierville.
This mushrooming growth created the need for physical expansion. The company first moved to larger quarters in an office complex in Bartlett then began construction of their own permanent location, the Sneed Building at 6645 Stage Road, 10 years later.
Sneed, Robinson & Gerbers growth continued, so three years ago the company built an addition that doubled the size of the original structure.
The companys commercial real estate development activities include developing the 30 acres that surrounds the Sneed Building into what will be called the Robinwood Commercial Center, which is projected to be a $25 million project. The project is still in the planning stage, as its development depends on the completion of the Kirby-Whitten Parkway, which will run through the middle of the property, Sneed said.
"The completion of Kirby-Whitten Parkway is scheduled for the end of this year, and at that point, well be more aggressive in marketing the center," Macky Sneed said.
Today, George Sneed continues to lead a staff of 26 real estate, insurance and financial planning professionals that includes his four sons and his daughter, each of whom manages a different aspect of the business.
"I just asked them, one by one, when they got out of college, if they wanted to work for me, and they all chose to do it," Sneed said. "And its worked out very well."