From Illinois Business Journal news services
ST. LOUIS — The Charles L. Crane Agency, which has a branch in Alton and is headquartered in Downtown St. Louis, celebrated its 130th anniversary on Sept. 15 with a celebration at Ballpark Village.
Crane has called Downtown its “home” since its founding in 1885 by Charles Linton Crane, the son of a steamboat captain.
Today, the Crane Agency is located at 100 North Broadway. In addition to Alton, it has branch offices in Chesterfield and Springfield, Mo., and South Florida. With 250-plus employees and brokers, the Crane Agency recently ranked in the Top 50 of the largest, privately held insurance agencies in the United States.
It is considered the oldest independent agency west of the Mississippi River. Representing all major property and casualty insurance companies, Crane is licensed in all 50 states and has more than 50,000 clients locally, regionally and nationally.
Crane was first housed in offices on Third Street (now the Gateway Arch Grounds), Crane relocated in 1908 to the Pierce Building (now the Hyatt Regency Hotel), the center of the St. Louis insurance industry. Growth and expansion moved Crane to several larger locations, but none farther than three blocks from its original Downtown roots.
“Congratulations to the Crane Agency on its 130th anniversary and its enduring legacy in the City of St. Louis,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “We appreciate the partnership that founder Charles L. Crane and his leaders have forged with the city over several decades and for the contributions the firm has made to the economic growth of the St. Louis community.”
According to research, the percentage of U.S. businesses that succeed even to their 100th anniversary is less than 1 percent.
Crane Agency President Mike Reedy attributes the firm’s longevity to its reputation for fair management, quality service and strong family values.
Reedy called it a testament to customers, loyal insurance carrier partners and dedicated support staff and brokers.
“We could not have survived 130 years without them or the strong foundation forged by Crane’s owners,” he said.
About the founder
Charles Linton Crane was born in Rochester, Pa., in 1861. The family moved to St. Louis when Charles was 11 years old, where he resided until his retirement. Crane began selling insurance as a young man, and in 1885 he founded his own agency. Some of his early clients were barge owners.
He was known as a savvy businessman with a gruff exterior who always believed in paying bills on time, regardless of the circumstances. He was also instrumental in helping form the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Missouri in 1899.
In 1920, Crane sold 60 percent of his agency to his four, top employees. He later retired to California and died in 1933.