A Brief History of Merchants
On March 5, 1918, Merchants Mutual Liability Company opened for business in Buffalo, New York. It was founded by Urban F. Jehle, owner and operator of a grocery store on Buffalo’s West Side. He returned from a grocers’ convention with the idea of banding merchants together for the mutual protection of their delivery vehicles. J.R. Young, a local insurance man, Owen B. Augspurger, a Buffalo lawyer, and C.W. Brown, a civil engineer, joined with him. They envisioned a company that would write automobile insurance through local independent agents. Mr. Jehle served as president of the company until 1923.
- The company’s first location was in two rooms in the former Niagara Life Building, then named the Crosby Building, at the corner of Franklin and Mohawk Streets in Buffalo.
- By 1923, the company had grown so much, the second location was in the Jackson Building on Delaware Avenue.
- 268 Main Street became the company’s third location in 1928 in the William Hengerer Company Store Building (originally built in 1880).
- With the growth of our business through the years, we needed to expand our corporate offices, so in 1965, Merchants’ current building was unveiled on Main Street in Buffalo.
Over the years, the company grew and changed with the times. The 1920s saw us expand outside of New York State, and we have been actively writing in the following states:
- Pennsylvania, since 1921.
- Massachusetts, since 1925.
- New Jersey, since 1926.
- Vermont, since 1928.
- New Hampshire, since 1928.
In February 1957, Merchants began to offer both casualty insurance and property insurance and changed its name to Merchants Mutual Insurance Company to reflect this development.
The 1970s saw us expand into two more states, Ohio in 1970 and Michigan in 1973.
We continued our growth throughout the years, and by 2006, we had incorporated two new companies, Merchants National Insurance Company and Merchants Preferred Insurance Company.