About Abel Insurance Agency

Our mission is to serve our clients needs as a leader in risk management and insurance services.

Bringing together our markets, clients, and communities to facilitate successful partnerships.

History of Abel Insurance Agency

1940 - 1953

Chester Isaacson left the Huggins agency and ventured out on his own, starting his agency from scratch in Coos Bay. Little is known about the agency during this time period.


Harry Abel Sr. was a logger who owned his own truck and hauled logs for his stepfather in law, Carl Spalding. Log trucks at that time were equipped with short log bunks and the loads were held in place by those bunks and the binders. One day while Harry was removing the binders in preparation for unloading at the dump site, the logs shifted and started to roll off the truck unexpectedly and Harry dove for safety under the truck. The first log hit him and pinned him to the ground and the other logs rolled of the truck as well, but fortunately for him the first log that was pinning him to the ground shielded him from being crushed. After hospitalization and removal of his spleen it took almost a year for him to recover.


Deciding that logging was risky business he looked for other work and landed a basic job in Chet Isaacson's insurance agency. After just 8 weeks of being on the job, Chet Isaacson suffered a stroke and was unable to work and could barely speak. It left him paralyzed on his left side and he never came back to work. The responsibility of running the agency was delegated to Harry Abel and he truly learned the business from the ground up. The insurance companies were a great help by sending field representatives to work with him and train him. He attended schools to learn the business and was the first agent in the area to achieve the designation of CIA (certified insurance agent) for which he was quite proud.

Harry ran the office for Chet and his wife Elsie and eventually was given the opportunity to purchase a 25% interest in the business. Chet and Elsie lived in a beautiful log home on the west fork of the Allegany River and Harry would take many trips to their home to discuss business with Chet. Communication was not easy. Eventually the name was changed to Isaacson-Abel Insurance Agency and Harry was gradually able to purchase another 25% and later the remainder. The office was first located on the 2nd floor of the American Building at the corner of 2nd and Central street in Coos Bay. Later it was moved to 110 N. Broadway just a block East of the American Building.


Harry Abel Sr. purchased the Ed Publicover Insurance Agency and merged his business together. Ed retired and never worked directly with the agency.


Harry Abel Jr. and Francie McMullan were attending SWOCC and Harry Jr. was struggling with the decision of what he wanted to do with his life. Francie suggested that he see his dad and ask about going into the insurance business. Harry Abel Sr. had told his wife Jean that he would not push Harry Jr. into the insurance business but would welcome him in if he asked. With Harry Jr.'s question, Harry Sr. put a plan in motion to get Harry Jr. to college where he could gain insurance understanding. There were only 2 colleges known at that time that offered insurance classes, one in New York City and one in San Francisco. Golden Gate college in San Francisco was chosen and Harry Jr. graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in insurance.


The city of Coos Bay started to build a downtown mall and Harry began building his own office building at 490 West Commercial. The old building was eventually torn down to make room for a parking lot and the Coos Bay Chamber of Commerce building.


The new home of Isaacson-Abel Insurance Agency was completed and became the headquarters of the operation. Besides Harry Abel Sr., there were 4 other employees in the office at this time.


Harry Abel Jr. graduated and joined the agency. It was just about this time that the name changed to Harry Abel Insurance Agency. Over the next few years, Harry Abel Jr. was learning the business and things were quite static although Harry Sr. was talking of things he would rather be doing. There were talks of merger with both Nasburg-Eastburn Insurance and with Huggins Insurance, but nothing materialized.


Harry Abel Insurance Agency became a regular corporation with Harry Abel Sr. owning 5% of the stock. This was a political move as he was serving on the school board and there was some ruckus about a conflict of interest as he was also writing the school's insurance. By owning a minor portion of the agency he could continue in both capacities.


Still concerned about the future, Harry Sr. and Harry Jr. talked with Jack Ward in Eugene about becoming part of his agency which he had just sold to Marsh & McClennan and talks also were in progress with Bender & Company in California, but in the end, it appeared that Harry Abel Jr. would not emerge as a major owner and Harry Sr. wanted him to have that opportunity. Neither sale materialized, so Ron Swank, a local Allstate agent, started talking with Harry Sr. about his desire to get out of the direct writer company and into the independent ranks.


A deal was struck with Ron Swank whereby he would purchase 50% of the agency from Harry Sr., and Harry Jr. would have 50% ownership as well. Harry Sr. would take up other interests (building his home in Bandon and partnership in Bay Area Racquetball Club).


Harry Sr. came back to work in the agency for a year and determined that he no longer wanted to be in the insurance business and retired to spend more time running the racquetball club. The name was changed to Abel & Swank Insurance Managers to reflect Ron's ownership interest.


Ron Swank had been traveling to Gold Beach to service some of his Allstate accounts and began to spend more and more time in that area. It started with a day trip, then an over night trip, and then to an apartment and eventually a complete move to the Gold Beach area. The Gearhart- Stokes agency vacated a building and Ron rented it immediately and the first branch office of Abel & Swank Insurance Managers was born.


Lee Santos had an agency in the Brookings area called Brookings-Harbor Insurance Agency and this agency was purchased by Abel & Swank Insurance Managers and became the Harbor branch. This was a strategic move as the long-range goal was to make the Curry county and Coos county agencies equal in size with Harry Jr. owning and running the Coos county agency and Ron Swank owning and running the Curry county operation. Later this idea did not seem to be a positive move so all locations were kept as one entity.


Harold McClellan had an agency in Florence and Harold had been a close friend for sometime. As a friend he offered his agency to Abel & Swank Insurance Managers and as of January 1, 1990, Abel & Swank had a Florence branch.


Kevin Dean owned a small nonstandard auto agency, which was purchased and merged into the Coos Bay office.


Bob Ditton owned a small office in Florence and sold that business to Abel & Swank and it was merged into the Florence office.


Ron Swank was speaking of retirement and plans started to work out a buy-out arrangement. As of May 1, 1994, Ron formally sold his portion of the business back to the corporation and the corporation sold a minor portion to Debbie Krambeal who was the manager of the Harbor office.


Wendy Abel-Hatzel took over as the manager for the Coos Bay office in the beginning of the year and by the end of the year was operating as the business manager for the entire agency to help relieve Harry of management duties.


Abel & Swank celebrated their 50-year anniversary in April with an open house at each office location. In August, the centralized processing center was opened in Coos Bay and the other offices were designated as strictly sales offices. Discussions began at the end of the year between Harry, Francie, Wendy and Debbie regarding Debbie's position within the agency and the possibility of further ownership.


January 1, 1998, the Harbor office was sold to Debbie Krambeal and her stock retired. The ownership of Abel and Swank remained with Harry and Francie each at 45% and Wendy with 10%.


The decision was made to change the business name to Abel Insurance Agency to reflect the Abel family ownership.


The formation of a processing center project, which was started in 1997, was a successful operational change as it helped to synchronize our processing procedure as well as free up our sales staff to concentrate on their clients needs. The processing center was located in a rented office near the Coos Bay sales office however that presented some difficulties in coordinating our IT services. It was apparent that the Processing Center would become more effective if it was located in the same building as the Coos Bay sales office.

Unfortunately the Coos Bay sales office building would not accommodate all the processing staff members so plans for remodeling that building began. After reviewing the cost of remodeling the building it was decided that we would see what we could get if we purchased a building with adequate space. The former Security Bank building located just South of the Coos Bay city limits had been vacant for some time, and we found it was cost effective to purchase and slightly remodel that building rather than proceed with an expansion.

The Security Bank building was purchased and the Coos Bay branch of Abel Insurance was moved to the new location on 7-1-2003. This has proved to be a very good move as it provided the agency better visibility to the public and opportunities for expansion as well.


We expanded our presence on the Oregon coast on January 1st with the purchase of the Crosno & Jones Agency in Toledo, Oregon which was relocated to a downtown location in 2010.


The Florence office purchased in 1990 received a much needed interior makeover opening up the office to better serve our clients.


On July 18th we opened an office in Newport, Oregon to better serve Lincoln County.


We celebrated our 75th anniversary this year with open houses in all office locations & employee trip to rogue river