Growing up in a family of radio broadcasters, it was understood that Matthew Bryan would at least give it a try. Though his personality and voice were fit for it, his entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t sit still. After earning his degree from East Tennessee State University in banking and finance, Matthew went to work for First Tennessee Bank and Merrill Lynch before finding his home base at Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance. His fervor for service means delivering fair and competitive prices and maintaining relationships with every client.
Matthew married his wife, Alena, in 2005. They have two young children, Rhodes and Marley. Together they love traveling, tailgating and growing deep roots in East Tennessee.
Founder and Licensed Agent (Retired)
Now retired, Gary Hitson had a handful of rules that kept clients a priority, and it started with a simple one: return phone calls the same day. The second rule was to keep your appointments and always be on time. The rules may be old-fashioned, but they worked, even in this modern world.
Though Gary is a third-generation insurance agent, he built Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance on his own after watching his grandfather and father succeed in national agencies. After spending one year in a national agency himself, Gary says “the light bulb went off,” and he decided to start his own business and go back to the basics of meeting the individual needs of each client and doing it with impeccable service.
Gary’s vision and zeal carried him from selling non-standard auto and life insurance out of his home to establishing a hometown business that’s grown steadily since 1978.
Personal Lines Manager
When Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance was in its earliest stage, Michele Self was there to do the groundwork. She started at Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance more than twenty years ago as a customer service representative and was licensed the following year. Today she specializes in personal lines of insurance and believes in every product she sells. Her knowledge and passion for the business have fueled a steady stream of referrals, a compliment like none other.
Michele was born and raised in Indiana but moved to Blount County as a teenager. Though she came “kicking and screaming,” she quickly fell in love with the area and vowed never to leave. Michele has two adult children; daughter Dana and her husband Andy Basler and son Darren who all live in Chattanooga.
With more than thirty years of experience in the insurance industry and an appreciation for locally-owned businesses, Nes Karnoupakis is a perfect fit for Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance. He’s an award-winning agent who strives to make every experience with each client a positive one, and since he’s been a small business owner in the past, Nes has a keen knowledge for what today’s business owner needs. Nes also has a passion for helping young families make wise choices about life insurance.
Originally from the panhandle of West Virginia, Nes and his wife Gail, of nearly fifty years have made a lasting home in East Tennessee, along with their three adult children and two grandchildren. Whenever they can, Nes and Gail enjoying traveling the country and beyond.
Personal Lines Account Representative
As a Blount County native, Caitlin Cook is happy and proud to help clients in her hometown. From answering accounting questions and changing policies, Caitlin says she’s the “catch-all” person, a licensed agent who can help clients with their insurance needs large and small.
Caitlin married her William Blount High School sweetheart, Adam, and they have two young daughters, Ella and Emma. In true East Tennessee spirit, they love spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains and rooting for the Vols.
When Alyssa walked into Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance for car insurance, she didn’t anticipate leaving with a job as a receptionist. However, that’s what happened shortly after moving to Maryville in the spring of 2016. She was licensed by August. It was the concept of working in insurance that peaked Alyssa’s interest - the "helping people protect what they love" as a worthwhile effort.
Alyssa is married to Chanse, a United States Marine, and she has two beloved dogs, Ella and Juno. In their free time, the Bartrams enjoy traveling and playing in the great outdoors.
Commercial Lines Agent
With more than 15 years of insurance experience under his belt, Keith joined the Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance team in December 2016 as a commercial lines agent. He spends the bulk of the work week in the community helping businesses get the best coverage at the best rate. He enjoys working with a team that shares the same values about running an independent company with integrity and quality customer service.
When Keith isn’t earning the trust of local business owners, he is golfing, hiking and spending time with his wife Felecia, and his two children.
Commercial Account Manager
Tillie joined Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance in February 2016 as a commercial account manager, but her experience in insurance goes back to when, at 7 years old, she learned how to answer the phones at her father’s company. Tillie went on to build a career in the insurance industry and still enjoys the daily challenge of doing the best job possible for each and every client.
Tillie and her husband, Ron, are Dollywood regulars for its Southern gospel music concerts. They have two daughters, a granddaughter, and a grandson.
Originally from Columbia, Mississippi, Virginia has called Knoxville home since the early 1970s, when she started her career in insurance. In 1995 she moved to Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance and continued to enjoy the challenge of balancing numbers. Virginia is proud of the professional longevity she has in the area and enjoys working for a company that provides the best price and fit for each client.
Virginia also enjoys traveling overseas when possible, reading, and playing Bridge. She has one daughter, a son-in-law, and six grandchildren, all in California.
Personal Lines Account Manager
Betty was born and raised in Blount County and has worked in the insurance industry for the entirety of her professional career, specifically at Hitson, Crum & Blazer Insurance since 1993. Betty’s work ethic is simple - do it right the first time and treat people how she’d like to be treated, two methods that have stood the test of time. She is dedicated to helping clients with whatever needs arise.
Betty and her husband Steven have a son and a daughter, along with three granddogs, whom she enjoys taking for walks.
Commercial Account Manager
Judy is a part-time commercial account manager who has spent the majority of her working life in the insurance industry. It’s a profession that suits her with the customer interaction and positive working environment.
When she’s not in the office, Judy enjoys shopping and painting.
Personal Lines Account Manager
As a catch-all person, from sales and claims to general customer service, Gail enjoys the interaction with local clients and the satisfaction of a claim being processed efficiently. Though she is now part-time, Gail has more than 20 years of experience working in insurance.
Gail and her husband Roger have two sons, who live in Kansas. Her favorite pastimes include gardening and reading mysteries.
Sara is no stranger to the insurance industry because she grew up watching her father, Gary Hitson, build his business based on the principle that clients come first. As a high schooler, she worked in the office but went on to the University of Tennessee to study animal science and biology to further her passion for conservation. While that is still a career path she’d like to follow, Sara is proud to work in the family business in the meantime and learn more about the company her dad helped to build.
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