Lansing’s oldest business celebrates 100 years: Schultz Insurance

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Cheryl Abbott cuts a ribbon to mark 100 years of Schultz Insurance, the business started by her grandfather and great-grandfather a century ago. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Ribbon cutting marks centennial of family-owned insurance agency

BY PAUL CZAPKOWICZ

LANSING, Ill. (January 23, 2022) – It was a party 100 years in the making as the Lansing community joined the Walter W. Schultz Insurance Agency in celebrating a century of doing business in Lansing with a ribbon cutting ceremony on January 23 — the exact date of the company’s founding.

Warren G. Harding was president back then and Babe Ruth was starring for the New York Yankees when the agency set up shop in Lansing.

Located at 18119 Torrence Avenue, Schultz Insurance is believed to be the longest-running business in Lansing. Barb Dust of the Lansing Historical Society said in looking at a 1930 phone book she found the agency but no other businesses that are currently operating in the village.

Cheryl Abbott runs the agency that was founded by her grandfather, Walter W. Schultz, and great-grandfather, Charles C. Schultz. Norman Abbott, Cheryl’s father, owns the business that he and his late wife, Diane, ran after purchasing it from Walter before his death.

“Our business started across the street in an old frame building and then years later we moved to the building we’re at right now,” Norman Abbott said. “And it’s been remodeled four or five times. And we’ve been in this location probably since the forties.”

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Norman Abbott, the current owner of Schultz Insurance, introduced Mildred Ogborn, the business’ first non-family employee, to the gathered crowd at Monday’s ribbon-cutting. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Independent insurance agency

Including Cheryl, there are currently six employees at the agency, which provides insurance for auto, home, life, health, and business.

Cheryl said being an independent agent has its advantages for customers.

“We can go out to a few different companies to see what’s the best price when someone wants a quote,” she said.

She said it is also the type of business where customers are sure to speak with a live person when they call.

“After hours it’s an answering machine, but you’re always gonna get someone to talk to,” she said.

Monday’s ribbon-cutting

Schultz Insurance invited current staff, former staff, and members of the Lansing business community to attend a ribbon cutting organized by the Lansing Chamber of Commerce. The event included refreshments and an opportunity for the Schultz Insurance community to connect, remember, and celebrate 100 years.

The Lansing community joined former and current Schultz Insurance employees in celebrating the business’s centennial. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

One of the employees present was Mildred Ogborn, the first non-family employee of Schultz Insurance, who was hired 1942.

“Working for Schultz Insurance is the greatest thing I could ever ask God to bless me with,” she said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The video below includes comments from both Cheryl Abbott and Ogborn:

Mayor Patty Eidam shares a moment with Mildred Ogborn, the first non-family employee of Schultz Insurance. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Community connections

Both of the Abbotts live in Lansing, where Norman said the insurance agency has given back to the community by sponsoring baseball and soccer teams. He spoke of the good schools and great parks in Lansing, the village in which he served two terms as mayor, from 2009–2017.

“We are proud of our heritage and what we’ve done for the community,” he said. “It’s just a community that we’ve never decided to leave.”

Cheryl Abbott said it is difficult for a business to reach 100 years because of big companies wanting to buy out smaller ones.

“I’m proud of the legacy that my grandfather and great-grandfather started, and that we were able to get to the hundred years,” Cheryl said.

She said the business has thrived due to dedicated past and present employees and its loyal customer base.

“We still have our original 1923 ledger books that my father-in-law kept over the years as a keepsake of when he started his business,” Norman said.

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An original ledger, dated 1923, was on display at the ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring Schultz Insurance’s 100-year anniversary. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Susan Thompson, interim director for the Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is very excited that Schultz Insurance has made it to 100 years in Lansing.

“That is quite a milestone and we’re honored to actually present them with a ribbon cutting for that milestone that they have achieved,” Thompson said. “It’s not every day that a business can hit a hundred years, a family-owned business, nonetheless.”

Walter W. Schultz Insurance Agency is located at 18119 Torrence Avenue in Lansing.

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