The agency was established in 1881 by Burton P. Barnes under the name of the Barnes Agency. Manistee was a much different community at the time, and it reflected in the type of insurance that was offered at the Barnes Agency. That was the lumber era in Manistee, and the Barnes Agency specialized in insuring shipments of lumber that were leaving the local port on ships for bigger cities located around the Great Lakes. They insured lumber that was located on the docks and on the ships. Boyer’s current President J. Michael Della Pia states, “Back then, it was primarily fire insurance, but now it is a lot more complex.”
One of the remarkable things about the agency is it has always been located on River Street. When it was the Barnes Agency, it was located at the west end of the street and years later it relocated in the Manistee County Savings Bank building where it remained as a fixture to the downtown area until 1994. It was at that time that this historic agency moved to its current location. The move was only fitting because the historic insurance agency moved into a historic building at 258 River Street. “This building was built in 1872 and we liked it because of its historical significance, “explained Della Pia. He also pointed out that the agency has its roots deep in Manistee County, and that the two have grown together over the years. “We have grown with it and have changed as the community changed,” said Della Pia.
The agency has evolved over the years. The first change came in 1904 when Frank Barnes, the son of Burton P. Barnes, joined the firm. Consequently, the name of the firm became Barnes and Barnes in 1922. For the next 24 years, no major changes took place until 1946 when Charles A. Boyer purchased the business and later incorporated the agency. He served as president until Theodore Knott assumed the position in 1967. Knott held that office until 1981 when Harold Lloyd took over as president. Della Pia became president upon Lloyd’s retirement in 2004.
Della Pia commented that the insurance business has changed a great deal since the days when Burton Barnes first swung open the door on his agency. He stated that their customers range from newborn children right on up to people concerned about Medicare supplements, prescription drug coverage, financial planning, and estate planning. “We have a complete Personal Lines Insurance Department, Commercial Lines, Bond Department, and Life and Financial Planning Department,” said Della Pia In addition, the agency has grown into a multicounty business. Presently, a branch office in Baldwin, Michigan serves the greater Lake County and points to the east and south.
The Boyer president also commented that many of the clients have been with the company for many years. Boyer Insurance Agency prides itself on the fact that many of its clients have been with the agency dating back quite a few years in Manistee’s history.