BOUNTIFUL — The failure of a Southern California ice cream store venture shortly after World War II led to creation of a Bountiful family insurance business - which just celebrated 60 years.
John Henry Smith Insurance, 563 W. 2600 South in The Square, came out of that financial disaster. It was the firm’s namesake who returned to his native Utah and started selling insurance for Beneficial Life in Salt Lake City. Its first office was a small space in that company’s old headquarters across from Temple Square, said Boyd H. Murdue. He is a third generation member of the family, joining through marriage.
Today, at 76,Mordue still comes into the office nearly every day, he said. “I work with clients I have known and associated with.”
Still slender and active running marathons and more, Mordue joined the business in 1969, following a one-year stint as a teacher at Viewmont High School, he said
“My oldest grandchild is 17, and would start the fourth generation,” he said. Although there has been an amicable split between some of the Smiths and Mordoe’s, there is every intention of keeping the founder’s namesake on the front door.
Although John Henry Smith was for the firm to move its headquarters into the county, Mordue said.
The firm now employs 20 people and has the main office in Bountiful and a smaller location in Salt Lake City. It was based in the state capital for 54 of those years, he said. Mordue moved to Bountiful many years ago and wanted to base operations there.
It was Mordue’s sons moving to Davis County many years ago that brought Boyd and Barbara to Bountiful and finally to moving the main office here, as well, Boyd Mordue said.
Tjerely members, descended from the founder, such as Holly, daughter of John Henry Smith, who has worked at the firm for 32 years, Betty Jeppson is like family, having joined the firm nearly 32 years ago.
Betty has been a staple all of those years, devoting much of her life to helping the business grow, Mordue said. She came to the business expecting to be there a short time and then find a husband and raise a family, but her family became the business, Jeppson said.
The agency initially sold only Safeco Insurance, Boyd Mordue said. Early on it added Bear River Mutual, which is reportedly Utah’s largest home-grown insurance company. John Henry Smith Insurance now provides many various types of insurance
Now the firm expects to continue, stronger than ever, serving more than 8,000 clients, Mordue said. And it’s going to be in Bountiful, he added.