Cowles Co. sells Northwest Farmer-Stockman insurance firm

<p><p>Northwest Farmer-Stockman Inc., a Spokane company that started 106 years ago as a magazine for farmers and ranchers before transitioning in 1939 to selling insurance, has been sold to a Texas company as part of a private stock deal.</p></p><p><p>Cowles Co., the owner of Northwest Farmer-Stockman, on Monday announced the completed sale to Dallas-based Integrity, an independent distributor of life, health and wealth products nationwide.</p></p><p><p>Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Negotiations for the sale had been underway for months, said Steve Drassen, who is retiring as Northwest Farmer-Stockman general manager.</p></p><p><p>“Integrity is a major player in the insurance industry,” Drassen said. “Their due diligence is quite thorough.”</p></p><p><p>The sale ends a storied history of an insurance company that started out as a publication that wrote about farmers in the Inland Northwest.</p></p><p><p>“It started out as a magazine. Then they had the brilliant idea of offering accident insurance to the farmers and ranchers who were the subscribers,” Drassen said. “In 1939, they added accident insurance to the sales reps’ tool bag. That’s how we first started getting into life and health insurance.”</p></p><p><p>Over the past 82 years, the company eventually built its customer base to 18,000 clients, he said.</p></p><p><p>Cowles Co. chairman and CEO Betsy Cowles said in a news release that the companies’ shared values made Integrity the logical buyer.</p></p><p><p>“After generations of serving tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers, it was clear Integrity would take the company to the next level and ensure our customers are well served for decades to come,” Cowles said in the release.</p></p><p><p>The Northwest Farmer-Stockman sale coincides with Drassen’s departure, Cowles said.</p></p><p><p>“Steve’s leadership helped us find the right buyer and ensure a smooth transition,” she said. “We thank him for his vision and hard work while he was at the helm of the company.”<span class=”print_trim”> Farmer-Stockman’s seven employees and insurance agents will continue working under Integrity’s ownership, Drassen said.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>Integrity describes itself as a leading distributor of life and health insurance as well as a provider of innovative solutions for wealth management and retirement planning. It has about 5,500 employees who work with agents and advisers across the country.</span></p></p><p><p><span class=”print_trim”>A spokeswoman for Integrity declined to provide more information when she was contacted Monday.</span></p></p><p><p> Cowles Co. publishes The Spokesman-Review.</p></p>