When Tom Kimbrel received approval from Edward Jones Investments to establish a brokerage office in Kansas, he told the company he did not want to live in a large city. So the company presented a list of possible rural locations. Several were in western Kansas, and a few were in eastern Kansas.
Sixteen and a half years later, Kimbrel is retiring from the place he chose in Marion to establish his office. His last day was Friday.
The company had been looking for someone with agricultural experience to head the new office. As a former dairy farmer in Oklahoma, Kimbrel fit the bill.
He and his wife, Regina, first drove through this area of the state in June 1998. They had visited Larned earlier and had watched the tumbleweeds roll across the dry prairie. They decided they would rather locate further east, so they checked out Marion County.
They visited several towns, and while driving through Marion, Regina pointed out the building at 314 E. Main St. and said, “That’s going to be your office.”
They found out about a house for sale at Marion County Lake and arranged to buy it. It so happened that the owners of the house also owned the Main Street building Regina had singled out for the Edward Jones office. The Kimbrels bought the building, and the rest is history.
“When we first came here, it was beautiful,” Kimbrel said. “The row crops were green, and the grass was lush and green.”
By the time they moved to Marion in August, however, the weather had turned dry and everything was brown. Later they experienced a lot of rain and flooding. But they never regretted coming to Marion County, he said.
The office opened in March 1999. He has seen many clients die or move away. He began as a broker and finished with an expanded role as an advisor in all aspects of financial management.
“The business has been very good to me,” Kimbrel said. “I’m so glad I made the move. We like living at the Marion County Lake and have made lots of friends.”
His secretary, Helen Reznicek, has been at Edward Jones since it opened. The retired school teacher said Kimbrel has been a good boss, and they have developed a close friendship.
Kimbrel established himself by going door-to-door and introducing himself and his business. The business saw steady growth, peaking with 457 households, most with multiple accounts.
He and his company went through two big downturns in the market, 2000 to 2002 and 2008. Those times were stressful as he diligently worked to keep people from pulling out of the market.
Kimbrel said he was conservative in his approach to investments. He wanted his clients to make a little money and get good dividends.
Kimbrel is looking forward to retirement. His wife, a special education teacher, is semi-retired, and they plan to spend more time together. The couple left Sunday on a vacation to Disney World in Florida.
“We have no desire to move away as long as our health stays good,” Kimbrel said.
His replacement, Chris Hernandez, took the helm at Edward Jones on Monday.
Businessman Roger Hannaford praised Kimbrel for his service to the community.
“Tom and Edward Jones have been a great asset to the Marion community,” he said. “They educated us on stocks and investing, and it has benefited a lot of people.”