Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

December 29, 2013

Boom time for classic cars

TRAVERSE CITY — Vintage car insurer Hagerty Insurance expects to double its size in the next three to four years, the company's chief executive officer said.

That’s a significant goal for a company that already employs about 550 people in the Traverse City area and another 100 elsewhere, making Hagerty one of the region’s most prolific employers. CEO McKeel Hagerty said the company's rapid growth is linked to a collector car insurance market that's thriving globally.

“It’s a profitable business that’s growing very rapidly,” Hagerty said. “We will absolutely double the size of this business within the next three years to the end of the fourth year. We are on a path to do it.”

Hagerty said the challenge of such accelerated growth is putting the company in a better financial position while managing risk and the cost.

“We have to make sure it’s financially strong so we can continue,” Hagerty said. “We have 600 families that, at least in some part, depend on us.”

Hagerty Insurance founders Frank and Louise Hagerty never intended the company to be so big, with annual U.S. sales that now hover near $200 million. The company was founded in 1984 at the Hagerty family home as a hobby business that could help fund the couple's retirement.

"We always say that this business really started in the basement of my parents’ home, in the house that I grew up in out on the Peninsula," McKeel Hagerty said. "It was really meant to be more of a retirement business. It was never meant to be a big company by any stretch."

The original Hagerty Marine Insurance targeted the niche market of insuring classic wooden boats. The 1991 expansion into the classic car insurance market was rough, Hagerty said, but new marketing strategies spread the word nationally, and business soared. Hagerty remains a family business to this day with McKeel's sisters, Kim and Tammy, on Hagerty's Board of Directors.

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