In 1915 William J Phillips,Sr. left the Phillips Farm in Davison, Michigan to begin a career as a life insurance agent. While selling life insurance he was introduced to Vern Valentine (V.V.) Moulton, founder of, the then fledgling, Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Auto-Owners, though founded in Mt. Pleasant, MI, had just moved to Lansing, Michigan. In 1917 Mr. Valentine approached William about selling automobile insurance in Flint Michigan to those who were purchasing the “horseless carriages”. You see, at this time there were still horse drawn carriages that filled the streets of downtown Flint.
According to a 1952 Auto-Owners periodical, “The Emblem”, Auto-Owners had $186.00 in assets when William started selling auto insurance. However, it is interesting to note that automobiles were selling for anywhere between $405.00 and $980.00. With that in mind $186 does not seem as a sufficient amount of assets to handle a claim. According to William, selling auto insurance was as difficult a task as selling a second oil dip stick.
For 6 years W. J. Phillips operated the agency from his home located at 1725 Adams Ave. Flint Michigan. In 1923 William moved the business to the Genesee Bank Building at 410 Saginaw Street. William operated the business from this location expanding it to rooms 409, 410, and 411. Soon after World War II had ended, William’s two sons William, Jr. and James, were brought into the business.
In April 1959 the firm purchased a handsome brick and clapboard home at the corner of Fourth Ave. and Garland Street in Flint, and converted it into an office. Here the agency operated until William’s grandson, Stephen Phillips, moved the office to 6045 Corunna Road Flint Twp, Mi 48532, which is its current location. William, Jr. continued to come in to the office even after his retirement in 1989. He wanted to ensure that Stephen was “doing things right”.
Stephen, the founder’s grandson, still owns and operates the agency, and there is now two 4th generation family members working in the business, Joshua & Zachery. Joshua focuses on personal insurance coverage’s and Zachery focuses on commercial insurance protection