SouthGroup at 409 Central Ave. is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number is 601-649-4062. The company is also on Facebook and at www.southgroup.net.
Outside of SouthGroup Insurance’s offices at 409 Central Avenue are two scarecrow superheroes — Spiderman and Batman.
“Insuring you against life’s villains,” is posted under the photo in a Facebook post, the creation of the staff of 22 at the independent insurance agency.
For the past nearly 100 years, what is now SouthGroup — one of 22 SouthGroup offices throughout Mississippi — has occupied the same space on Central between Fifth Avenue and Magnolia Street.
Founded in 1918 as Graves, Lindsey and McLaurin, the insurance agency became Graves, Lindsey, McLaurin and Jones in 1983 and remained under that name until 2002, when it merged with nine other agencies around the state to become SouthGroup.
“We like to say we are a 15-year-old company with a 100-year-old history,” said Brad Kent, president of SouthGroup Laurel and a fourth-generation insurance professional.
The Laurel office has 22 total employees and, statewide, there are 190 employees.
“By being an independent insurance agency, we offer choices,” said Kent.
The company offers property and casualty insurance, for which it is most well-known, but also life and health insurance, Kent said.
SouthGroup has been honored as one of the Top 100 insurance agencies in America as chosen by Insurance Journal and is the largest privately owned insurance agency in Mississippi.
Kent returned to Laurel 7 1/2 years ago and over that time has seen massive changes in the downtown area of Laurel. He has several business interests in the city, as well as the insurance agency.
He said while the insurance agency is seeing big changes, most dictated by technological advancements, the future of the business — and Laurel’s downtown — are bright.
He sees a day when Laurel becomes a hub for shopping, dining and business for a five- to seven-county area.
“I see the downtown area really emerging as a destination,” he said.