W.A. Young Insurance is proud to celebrate 100 years of service to the Rockford community and beyond this year. Young Insurance, as it is typically referred to, is a local family owned and operated independent insurance agency specializing in home, auto, business and benefits insurance. With strong ties to the community, the agency is celebrating where they have come from and the great things to come for both the company and city of Rockford into the future.
The company was founded in 1923. A businessman, named Clare Carth Bush (C.C.B.) Kutts decided the community needed an insurance professional who would treat people right and be there when the need arose. Mr. Kutts was born in Algoma MI on November,7 1875. After serving in WWI, Mr. Kutts started a family and started to establish himself in the Rockford Community. His first profession was a local banker in Rockford, in February of 1923, he decided to start selling insurance to his customers. Auto-Owners Insurance, in Lansing Michigan, provided Mr. Kutts with his first insurance company contract. That contract is still held in continuation through today by W. A. Young with Auto-Owners being a prominent company to this day. In the 1930’s, C.C.B Kutts left the bank to focus on insurance full time. He was active in the community by then, contributing his time and efforts to the Rockford Congregational Church, Masonic Lodge No 246 and clerking for Algoma Township and the village of Rockford.
In 1948, after many years working for various insurance companies, Willis A. Young struck a deal with C.C.B Kutts, Mort Cook and Howard Conant, two other local insurance salesmen, and combined their efforts to form what is now known today as the W.A. Young Insurance agency. The Young family had been long time residents of Rockford, with their original homestead starting on the southeast shores of Silver Lake in 1844. Over the generations, their farm grew several hundred acres toward Bostwick and Sunfish Lakes. While still in the possession of the Young family, the land was turned into Silver Lake Golf course, opened in 1925 and lasting until it closed in 2019. Willis’s father, William Crawford Young was Rockford’s very first major, and even the namesake for Young Ave just east of Rockford. Willis also had a long history of serving the Rockford community through his participation in the Masonic Lodge, Chamber of Commerce, Sportsman Club, serving as the treasurer of the Rotary club, Boy Scout Chairman, and others over his life. He and wife Catherine had 3 children Bernon, Barbara and Billie.
Insurance continued to be a family affair for the Young’s with Bernon, or Bernie as he was more commonly known, joining his father at W. A. Young and becoming the manager in 1966. Prior to joining the family business, Bernie had been a 12-varsity letter athlete at Rockford High School, class of ‘49. He went on to graduate from Michigan State University. He was also drafted and served in the US Navy from 1951-1953. Bernie and Willis ran the agency together until 1971 when his father retired, and Bernie became the sole owner of the company. He successfully ran the agency with a team that included his wife and 3 other employees for many years. He picked up the torch where generations of his family had left off and was very involved in local groups. One of his most visible accomplishments to this day was the work he did to develop the Rouge Valley Towers for seniors in 1973. Bernie and his wife Bette had three children and lived in the Rockford area until retiring to Florida in 1983.
In April of 1984, Del Doyle of Grand Rapids, MI finalized the purchase of W. A. Young Insurance so Bernie could retire. Mr. Doyle was already a successful insurance agency owner having started Doyle & Ogden Insurance in Grand Rapids in 1958. Del had been working for an insurance company prior to 1958 and decided he needed to find a new path to help support the 11 children he and wife Jean had with a 12th born a few years later. Tragically, Del passed away after being struck by a train on the Doyle family farm in Lowell, MI in October of 1984 just months after the purchase of W. A. Young. By that time, Del’s oldest son, John Doyle, had been running Doyle & Ogden Insurance with him for many years, having started in the business in 1960. They were well positioned to continue to provide excellent insurance services to the community of Rockford. The Doyle family made the easy decision to retain the name W. A. Young Insurance to celebrate and honor the legacy and good will the Young family had cultivated over generations. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
With Del’s passing, another son Mike Doyle, left his job in San Francisco as a stock loan advisor for Montgomery Securities and moved back to Michigan to help his brother John continue to grow both agencies. As the town of Rockford continued to grow and prosper, so did the agency as they went on to hire several more people to help bring the company to the size it is today. Today, Between Doyle & Ogden Insurance and W. A. Young Insurance the Doyle family has grown the companies to provide insurance to over 10,000 individuals and employs around 45 people. John and Mike worked together as only brothers can. They shared the philosophy that if “you put the client’s needs first, everything else will work out for the best”. John retired in 2006 to spend more time with his wife of 45 years, Kathleen and their three children and 5 grandchildren.
The Doyle family continues to carry on to this day the strong family tradition of the business with Mike’s daughter Shannon Heads joining the agency in 2014. Like her grandfather and the Young family before, she also spent several years working for an insurance company prior to picking up the torch as the 3rd generation in the business.
Today, Mike and Shannon continue to be stewards of this community pillar and are honored to be a part of its history that brought it to celebrate 100 years in business. Shannon says “I find it incredible to be a part of not only this company’s long journey but also the community. Rockford is such a special place where everyone knows your name and the pride and support of the community is so strong. The fact that our family has been fortunate enough to steward this company for a little over a third of its life helps to show the growth and determination of this town.”. Over the course of the year, W. A. Young Insurance will be celebrating with special customer appreciation gifts and events, they will be carrying the banner at the start of the Summer Celebration this year as well as being a part of the Reading Festival, Harvest Festival, and the Christmas festivities. The 100 Year anniversary celebrations will kick off with a ribbon cutting in February to mark the official first appointment with Auto Owners back in 1923. W. A. Young Insurance is proud to call Rockford home and looks forward to a special year of community service and engagement as a thank you to all who have come before and those they serve today.