Western States Insurance Agency is headed to downtown Medford's Cuthbert Building on Central Avenue.

Western States Insurance Agency is headed to downtown Medford's Cuthbert Building on Central Avenue.

The Missoula, Mont.-based group of 27 independent agencies entered the Rogue Valley market in 2002, when it acquired Associated Insurance of Ashland. In 2003, it bought Rogue Valley Insurance in the Medford Center.

Scott Sherbourne was named branch manager three months ago and has wasted little time raising the company's profile.

"Western States encouraged us to get more involved in the community," Sherbourne said. "When I saw that location, I thought, 'What better opportunity to communicate involvement in these difficult times?' "

Sherbourne's roots here are deep: He was born at Rogue Valley Medical Center, attended Lone Pine Elementary, Hedrick Junior High, Medford Mid-High and Medford Senior High schools.

"We want to be in the heart of Medford," he said. "As a native, it's been hard to watch downtown surge and then fall back."

After acquiring RA Jones and Associates at the beginning of the year, Western States had 16 agents and support staff packed into less than 4,000 square feet on the northwest corner of the Medford Center. The agency will occupy 4,900 square feet vacated by Trinity Carpet & Flooring last summer with another 1,500 square feet available.

Sherbourne said the company signed a five-year lease with an option for 10 more. R.A. Murphy Construction is reworking the interior with a move-in target date of May 1.

The marble entry and floor will remain, along with the high ceilings, but the main floor will be filled with offices.

"It's a gorgeous building and a great location," Sherbourne said. "We are looking for early-20th-century light fixtures and pictures for the walls."

Western States Insurance is composed of 27 independent agencies in Montana, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. It brokers policies for 300 carriers.

Sherbourne spent 14 years with Allstate before joining Western States.

"We have clients across the country because of our affiliation," he said. "The model used at Allstate was, if a client moved to California or Washington, we had to refer them to an agent licensed in that state."

The agency handles standard insurance and estate planning needs.

"Our companies insure anything from train cabooses to a moped or Segway," he said.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.