The year 1923 was a simpler time amid the roaring twenties and nationwide prohibition. Calvin Coolidge had just been elected the 30th president of the United States. Many say this was the peak of architecture for many profound building in the Jackson area. Among all that, two brothers walked away from their successful jobs to follow their joint dream of owning a business. Thus, The Craft Agency, Inc. was founded.
100 Year Old Insurance Agency in Jackson, MI
The Craft Agency, Inc. was originally established in 1923, by brothers Rafe S. Craft and Merrill G. Craft. Rafe and Merrill were both employed in the circulation department of the Jackson Citizen Press when they decided to form their own insurance/real estate business; Rafe primarily handled the real estate portion of business while Merrill handled insurance. The Craft Agency, Inc. later moved exclusively to insurance.
Merrill was a past president of the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, Greater Jackson Association (now the Greater Jackson Chamber of Commerce) and the Jackson Lions Club. He was also a member of the Country Club of Jackson, Town Club, and Loyal Order of Moose. In 1941, he was the vice chairman of the Cascades Festival. Merrill and Rafe successfully built their company and proudly served for nearly 35 years, before retiring as the first generation of Crafts.
The second generation of Crafts was that of James M. Craft and Robert D. Craft. Both sons of Merrill Craft, the brothers joined the family business shortly after their Uncle Rafe passed away in 1957. Before working at the Agency, the brothers served in the U.S. military during the Korean War.
Jim served on the Jackson City Planning Commission from 1973 to 1985 and enjoyed his long affiliation with the Photo Marketing Association International as their insurance advisor. Jim also served as a director for Jack V. Butterfield Investment Company. He was an active member of the Country Club of Jackson.
Bob served on the Jackson Public School Board for six years. He was the Director of the Board of City Bank & Trust, N.A. and was the President of the Blue Horizons Investment Club. Bob contributed his time and energy to many organizations and charities within Jackson County over the years. After their father, Merrill, passed away in 1965, Bob stepped up as Chairman of the Board for The Craft Agency.
Bob and Jim confidently lead the company into further success, until the third generation of Crafts joined in the late 80s. Jim retired in 1998, and passed away 10 years later. Bob continuously served for 55 years before his sudden death in 2010. During his lifetime, Robert D. had three of his four sons follow in his footsteps, Robert M. Craft, Richard M. Craft, and David W. Craft. Each son joined the family business after graduation and building up job experience outside of the agency. Richard joined in 1984, after 5 years experience at Aetna Insurance Company (Travelers). Bob joined next in 1988 after practicing law in Jackson. David joined in 1997 after practicing corporate law for several years. When Uncle Jim retired, the three brothers became board members of The Craft Agency, Inc.
In 2005, the Crafts moved locations; from their long-time office on the Mansion Row of W Michigan Ave, to their current, corporate office on Spring Arbor Road. After their dad, Robert D., passed, the three stepped up to carry on their father’s legacy. Since then, Bob, Rick and David have all strived to continue and accomplish the great work their father and grandfather once dreamed about.
Bob stepped up at President of The Craft Agency, Inc. after his father passed. He and his family formed the inaugural Walk to Cure Juvenile Diabetes in Jackson county and has since raised over $3.3 million dollars to the cause. Rick obtained his Certified Insurance Counselor designation. He retired from The Craft Agency, Inc. in 2017, after 33 years of service, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He still remains an essential member and supporter of the company.
David, who strongly believes in giving back to the community, has been active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, where he was Big Brother of the Year. He is also involved in the Ella Sharp Museum Board of Trustees, the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, the Henry Ford Allegiance Health Foundation board, as well as the Henry Ford Jackson Board of Trustees, and was a board member of the Country Club of Jackson; some of which his father and grandfather participated and supported as well.
Today, The Craft Agency, Inc. is one of the longest established insurance agencies in Southern Michigan. The company remains a premier insurance provider with an outstanding reputation for customer service through their local and national programs. They are staffed by 28 charitable, extraordinary people (and one spoiled cat) who all value the importance of quality client relationships, always striving to do what is best for their customers, the community, the companies they represent, and their co-workers. They are reminded daily of words the late Robert Craft used to say: “Do the right thing and everything else will take care of itself.” Together, their commitment and hard-work earned them the title of “Best Insurance Agency of Jackson” in 2019.
In planning for the 100th year anniversary, David, Bob, and the entire Craft family are thrilled to share the excitement with their customers, vendors, insurance companies, and followers on social media; planning an entire year of riveting content and events. The employees of The Craft Agency, Inc. would like to thank their loyal clients and previous coworkers for their dedication to our family. They look forward to working with new clientele, and the long-time customers they continuously serve, into the next 100 years.