KALKASKA — Rodger Dewey started his insurance agency in a Mancelona train car in 1971.
It was the only office space left in town. Dewey and his family have since moved the business to a building in Kalkaska, guided it through the dawn of computers, economic swings and the Affordable Care Act. They did it while maintaining a local, family-run feel.
“I grew up in the agency, billing, filing and hanging out around the office while I was a youngster, doing direct mail stuffing in the basement,” said vice president Patrick Dewey, Rodger’s son. “It’s a family-owned business. Everybody pitched in and did what we had to do.”
The Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce on Thursday named the Dewey Insurance Agency the Kalkaska Business of the Year. The award recognized more than 40 years of providing personal, home, commercial and oil and gas insurance.
Patrick said the award came as a surprise and shows his employees’ collective expertise pays off.
“My goal is to maintain an agency with about the same number of employees for the years to come, and attract and service high-quality clients that enjoy working with us and enjoy the level of service we provide,” he said. “We’re not just a quote shop.”
The Kalkaska Chamber named Janet Sieting citizen of the year.
Sieting volunteers with the Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, the Academea Club and other community events. She retired from The Leader and the Kalkaskian newspaper last year, and used to own Klumpp Flower and Garden Center with her husband, Terry.
Sieting likes volunteering because it allows her to give back to Kalkaska, the community in which she raised her three sons.
“It’s totally rewarding,” she said. “There’s personal satisfaction in being able to help and see that you can make a difference. The needs are there, so it’s great. It’s especially great for retired people, and I know that’s one of the things that keeps Kalkaska going.”