A community of good neighbors

By CATHRYN CARTWRIGHT,

Life often happens suddenly and unexpectedly.  Thankfully, there are always local insurance agents in any community who are there to help you plan for and recover from accidents at home or on the road.

David McPhail has been serving the Yazoo community for over 30 years as a State Farm Insurance Agent.  He, Pam Delancey and Patty Taylor can be found on most business days inside their office located on Grand Avenue in Yazoo City.

McPhail, who was originally from Canton, first arrived in Yazoo City in 1986 when he started from scratch to build his agency from the ground up.

One of the first tactics McPhail used to get started was to open up a Yazoo City phone book and make countless phone calls every day.  After he met a certain quota and created a list of new clients, he eventually opened his first office in March of 1986 in a small building on Jerry Clower Boulevard, where a local bank now stands.

"I rented a little office from Mr. Ramsey," he said. "It was probably 400-square feet, and I had just three little rooms."

A few years later, David's agency was growing, and he needed a larger office. In December of 1993, McPhail's State Farm Insurance Agency opened its doors on Grand Avenue in Yazoo City, where he has stayed busy for 25 years.

McPhail said that the State Farm products he sells consist mostly of automobile insurance, home insurance, life insurance, and also financing and other loans through State Farm Bank.

"State Farm insures more cars than anyone else in the country," McPhail said. "We are also the leading home insurer in the country, as well as in Mississippi, and that is what we are known for."

Over the last 30 years of working in the insurance business, McPhail said that he remembers many times when he has risen to the occasion to meet the needs of his customers.

"I had a client call me at three in the morning several years ago; his house was on fire," he said. "I got up right away and drove over there. All you can do for a person at that very moment is assure them that everything is going to be OK, and that we are going to take care of it."

McPhail said that many of his clients were affected in April 2010 when a tornado struck Yazoo City, and he worked tirelessly for over a year settling claims so that his clients could start moving forward.

"State Farm's mission statement is: To help people recover from the unexpected," he said. "And that's exactly what we do."

McPhail said his favorite part about owning a business in Yazoo City is that he crosses paths with so many different people every day, and there is always something new every day.

"You would think that we had seen it all, but then somebody will come in with something new next week that I have never heard of before," he said.

McPhail said that another part of working in a small town is that he gets to work closely with agents at other local insurance offices, and he maintains a professional working relationship with them as part of his business.

"Most of the time when I cross paths with these other guys, it is very cordial and friendly," he said. "It's amazing how much we have in common.  There are some really good people in this business."

Because McPhail built his business in Yazoo City, called this town his home for over 30 years and raised a family here, he often finds himself giving back to nearly every community event or fundraiser that calls on him.

"We generally support the schools when they come in and ask for things and a lot of community organizations," he said.  "At the end of the year when we total up our donations, I am always surprised at how much we have given."

Some of the events and organizations that McPhail Insurance Agency has supported over the years include charity golf tournaments at the local country clubs, yearbooks, high school athletic programs, community festivals and even Little League teams.

McPhail Insurance Agency is also a member of the Yazoo County Chamber of Commerce, and McPhail often attends those functions as well to help support other local businesses.

"The business community here is what makes Yazoo City run," McPhail said. "I feel fortunate to be a part of it and we try to give back as much as we can."

McPhail said he feels that the future of Yazoo City lies in the development of the local schools and the revitalization of the downtown area.

"If the schools thrived, it would turn into an economic boom because companies would move here, and that would in turn create some residential development which we need," he said.

McPhail said that he is thankful for all of the people who have supported his business for the last 30 years.

"Thanks to all of the people who have trusted us to handle their insurance," he said. "We think of them all as family."

McPhail Insurance Agency stands by its motto to help its customers stay prepared for the unexpected things that happen in life, and like a good neighbor, they are only one phone call away.