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• November 4, 2014
It was eight years after the town of Delray became incorporated that Amos Plastridge opened his insurance agency on Atlantic Avenue in the heart of what was then a very small town.
The year was 1919 and Plastridge found his customers among the small population of about 250 residents.
Over the coming years, he would help his customers and neighbors, especially in the aftermath of hurricanes and tropical storms.
Although Plastridge sold the business in 1950 to Paul Speicher – whose family members have run it ever since – his name is still on the agency, which today is one of Delray Beach’s oldest businesses and the oldest insurance business in Palm Beach County.
This summer, Plastridge Insurance celebrated its 95th birthday, a milestone that very few South Florida businesses have accomplished.
That achievement is being recognized by the Delray Beach Historical Society, which this month is shining a spotlight on the business and on the Lynch family, which has run Plastridge Insurance for more than half a century.
“Part of our mission is to create a strong legacy of preserving our town’s stories and history for future generations,” said Winnie Edwards, Executive Director of the Delray Beach Historical Society. “The Lynch family has created such a legacy and we wanted to share their family story.”
That story is one of longevity and survival during economic ups and downs based on a commitment to customers and a commitment to a community.
The keys to Plastridge’s success, says Tom Lynch, the semi-retired CEO who started working at the agency 45 years ago, are simple.
“It’s about adapting to change with vision and taking care of employees,” he said
It’s also, says his son Connor Lynch who now runs the day-to-day operations of the business his grandfather and father built, about taking care of customers.
“We always do what’s right for the customer whether or not it’s the best thing for the company,” Connor Lynch says. “Ours is a business model that’s built on honesty and on doing the right thing for the client.”
That culture, Connor Lynch says, was created by his grandfather but nurtured and grew under Tom Lynch’s leadership.
The story of how Plastridge Insurance grew into the very successful business that it is today – expanding from just six employees in one location to 100 employees in four locations – begins with Paul Speicher’s purchase of the agency back in the waning days of World War II.
Speicher lived in North Miami Beach and worked for a large insurance company as an auditor of agencies, a job required him to meet with agents in the South Florida area.
It was during a trip to Delray, that Amos Plastridge mentioned his desire to sell the business. Soon Speicher had purchased not only the firm but also Plastridge’s home.
“My grandfather saw the opportunity to establish himself in his own firm rather than be part of a bigger company,” Connor Lynch says.
Paul Speicher continued to run the business, which at the time not only brokered insurance but also handled real estate and mortgages, until he ha a heart attack in the early 1970s.
Tom Lynch, who had worked at the agency part time while teaching school and applying to medical schools, was drafted to help out and within a couple of years ended up buying the agency from his father-in-law.
It was under Lynch that the agency underwent a transformation and adapted to changes in the industry.
He focused strictly on insurance and at the same time saw the value of acquiring other insurance firms, giving a bigger Plastridge more influence when it came to dealing with insurance companies and also consolidating back-office functions so the businesses that were acquired could spend more time focused on clients.
The agency also grew geographically and now has offices in Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart. The firm, which specializes in commercial insurance but handles personal insurance as well, has more than 25,000 clients and is licensed in 32 states.
Today, Tom Lynch still has his hand in the business, keeping a few clients of his own but he leaves the day-to-day operations up to Connor and another son, Brendan who is a vice president.
Over the years, Tom Lynch, and now Connor, have made it a point to become involved in the community. Tom Lynch served as chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency, mayor of Delray and as chair of the Palm Beach County School Board. He now serves as mayor of the Village of Golf.
Last month he was recognized by Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce, which presented him with a Lifetime Achievement award for his commitment to the community.
Connor Lynch’s community involvement includes serving on the Chamber’s executive board, on the board of the Dare to Be Great Foundation and on the Palm Beach County Business Development Board.
The Lynches are also strong supporters of the Delray Beach Historical Society, which they believe has played a key role in the community’ success over the years.
“It’s important to have a place where people can gather and learn from the past,” Connor Lynch says. “Knowing the history is a great way to get connected to the community you call home.”