First Security Agency was recognized on May 15 as the 2013 Business of the Year at a luncheon sponsored by the Sleepy Eye Area Chamber of Commerce.

First Security Agency was recognized on May 15 as the 2013 Business of the Year at a luncheon sponsored by the Sleepy Eye Area Chamber of Commerce.

"This is a very special award because the businesses are nominated by their peers," said Chamber Director Trista Barka. "This year's recipient had more than one nomination, which says a lot about that business." 

First Security Agency was presented with a framed certificate of their achievement and an ornamental glass award with the words "Customer Service does not come from a manual, it comes from the heart," etched on it.

"Perry and I want to tell everyone we graciously accept this award and we are very humbled by it," owner Ron Petersen said to a crowd gathered at the Community Center for the luncheon. "We appreciate our many agency clients and customers and team employees who work together to make our agency successful.

Agency employees include Myra Simon who has been with the agency since 1999; Kathy Haala who has been with the agency since the first day it was purchased on March 1, 1998; Cheryll Blick who has been with the agency since 1996 when it was owned by First Security Bank; Jeff Pietig, Perry's son, who joined the agency in 2011 and Mike Petersen, Ron's youngest son, who came to work for the agency in 2012.

"The nature of our business is to serve people and that's why we are in the business of working with people every day," Ron added.

Owner Perry Pietig gave a brief history of the business saying that it dated as far back as First Security Bank, which celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2007.

The agency operated under the name of First National Agency until May 1, 1969, when First National Bank purchased and merged with the William G. Ibberson Agency, formerly the Cecil Berkner Agency. This acquisition brought William Ibberson and Pearl Schroepfer as full-time employees at the bank.

"Pearl always made the remark she was bought and sold and told to show up for work Monday morning," Perry told the group gathered.

During that same year, First National Bank changed their state charter to First Security State Bank.

In June 1973, Perry graduated from high school and was offered a job as a bank teller.

"Bill Ibberson had his desk on the east side of the vault door where Brenda Walden had her desk for these past years," Perry remembered. "On the west side was Pearl's desk and that was the agency then." 

Throughout the years many agencies merged with First Security Agency included the Jim Broich Agency, Joel Reel, Roman Krzmarzick Agency and the Mel Cook Agency.

"That's the history of what makes up the volume of clients and people we represent and have served through the years and who have been good customers to our agency," Perry concluded.

To be eligible for business of the year, the business must meet five established criteria. They must be in good standing with the Chamber of Commerce, have been in business for at least three years, have demonstrated and committed to good business practices, are dedicated to making Sleepy Eye a better place by giving back to the community and support economic development of Sleepy Eye.