Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 29, 2013

Hagerty Insurance poised for more growth

TRAVERSE CITY — It’s hard to miss the signs of success at Hagerty Insurance these days.

Perfectly polished classic cars and motorcycles sparkle like diamonds through show windows at company headquarters on Cass Street. The business’ exterior is one of the most noticeable commercial properties in Traverse City with its brick and glass facades.

The goings-on at Hagerty convey vibrancy, with dozens of workers in and out company doors at any given time, headed to the on-site gym, expansive cafeteria or high-end office space to labor at an insurance model so successful it regularly draws the attention of media outlets like CNBC, CNN and The Wall Street Journal.

But it wasn’t always like this.

Hagerty Chief Executive Officer McKeel Hagerty remembers when the fate of Hagerty Insurance’s car coverage business was in serious doubt.

“The first few years didn’t go well at all,” Hagerty said. “On the auto side ... we were actually thinking about shutting the business down. In 1994 it was losing a lot of money, and it was very, very hard.”

The Hagerty family stuck with it and some marketing experts recommended a new advertising campaign to feature full-page advertisements in national car and hobby magazines. Ads were placed and what followed was an astonishing stretch of growth for a company that is one of northern Michigan’s most significant employers, with more than 500 people on the payroll.

“Our (advertisements) just looked so different, and the phone just rang off the hook,” Hagerty said. “Its been an incredible journey since then.”

McKeel Hagerty discussed the company, its keys to success, and what the future holds.

Read the full story in today’s Record-Eagle Business section on page D1.

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