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AUSTIN EDITION - NOTEBOOK AmFam adds space and staff

American Family Insurance in Austin to going to need to add more business insurance since it is adding more space and people.

The office at 611 First Ave. S.W. is expanding by 520 square feet to bring the total space to about 1,500 square feet, says agency owner Deb Bennefeld.

The extra room will be used for three offices and a filing room, she said.

The office has five people on staff now.

Bennefeld has one staffer in the process of becoming a licensed agent, and she expects her staff to grow soon.

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"I hope to add another licensed person within the next year," Bennefeld said. "Every (insurance) line is growing."

American Family offers auto, home, life, health and business insurance.

Bennefeld attributes part of her office's growth to customers coming in for two or three types of insurance rather than one.

"We are really moving into having people rounding out their whole (insurance) package right here from us," she said.

To better deal with developments in the ever-changing insurance field, Bennefeld plans to have her agents become specialists in one specific field of insurance, such as auto or home. That person would then track changes in that field.

Bennefeld took over the office six years ago. This is the second major update of the building following an extensive remodeling project in 2000.

"I think that remodel in 2000 really paid off for us," Bennefeld said, speculating that as the office became more professional looking, it attracted more customers. Those additional customers might have helped spur the growth that's driving the current expansion.

GOING EAST: Barber Larry Bushaw is going east.

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For the past five years, he has cut hair at Sterling Barber Shop at 1405 First Ave. S.W. in Sterling Plaza.

The building his business was in, which also includes the closed Sterling Three Theatre, is in the process of being sold. So Bushaw decided it was time to move.

He closed his doors in Sterling on Saturday, and he plans to reopen for business as Bushaw Lakeside Barber on Sept. 1 in a 400-square-foot shop at 100A 11th St. S.E., in the shopping center that includes Jim's Supervalu and Joe's Star Liquor.

"I'll be the only barber on the east side," Bushaw said.

He plans to offer a seniors card after the move. The card is punched after every haircut, and 10 punches get the card-holder a free cut.

Kiger's Notebook appears on Mondays and Fridays in the Austin Post-Bulletin. Send questions or business news tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or call 434-7340.

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