First Defiance Financial Corp., Defiance, Ohio, is taking its first step into insurance with the purchase of a property and casualty agency.

The $781 million-asset thrift holding company announced that it has completed a deal to buy Insurance Center of Defiance, an agency with about $5.7 million in annual premium sales.

William J. Small, First Defiance's chief executive, said diversifying into insurance is a growing trend. He added that First Defiance will be open to additional steps to build insurance sales. First Defiance, parent of First Federal Savings and Loan, did not disclose terms of the stock-swap deal. The acquisition is expected to contribute to earnings immediately.

Mr. Small said the agency has a strong reputation in Defiance. Its principals are to remain at the insurance agency, which becomes a subsidiary of First Federal.

The agency, which does business under the name Stauffer Mendenhall Agency, has 11 licensed agents and three administrative employees.

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