Haylor, Freyer & Coon, founded in 1928 by Burnett (Barney) E. Haylor and James McLusky, began as a local four-person insurance agency and grew steadily into a national agency. Today, HF&C is a proven leader in the insurance industry with approximately 200 employees and 11 corporate offices. ISO 9001 certified by the International Standards Organization and an ESOP company (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), the agency maintains its long-standing dedication to the well being of its employees and to providing the highest quality insurance products and services to its clients. This dedication has remained central to the agency's success from the beginning.
HF&C's history reflects its commitment to providing state-of-the-art, customized insurance programs. This commitment is rooted in the agency's origins, which began to take shape in the early 1920's. At that time, Barney Haylor was just getting started as a young insurance salesman. Tragically, his father, a district chief with the Syracuse Fire Department, died due to smoke inhalation. The other Fire Chiefs, eager to assist with Barney's career, allowed him to ride with them to various firehouses to write personal insurance for the firefighters. This first niche laid the foundation for the McLusky & Haylor agency, opened in September of 1928 in the Herald Building at 332 S. Warren Street.
McLusky & Haylor was new to the insurance marketplace when the Great Depression hit in 1929 and the small agency struggled to continue operations. Fortunately, the need for firefighters never diminished: the firemen kept their jobs and their ability to pay their bills. With their firefighter client base firmly established, McLusky & Haylor held fast in its drive to succeed and was able to pull through this difficult period.
In the 1930's, the introduction of the automobile brought new opportunities for McLusky & Haylor. Inspiring a financing innovation, the agency developed a single interest collision and "skip" auto insurance coverage for the Merchants National Bank and Trust Co, which allowed the bank to provide direct loans to auto buyers. A photo taken at the time of the partnership shows a CSR with her arms overflowing with a month's renewals, which demonstrated the success of their entrepreneurial efforts. Bud Haylor, son of Barney Haylor and the first in a continuing tradition of 2nd generation partners, remembers the moment as a source of great pride for Jim McLusky and his father. Interestingly enough, the picture would only represent a fraction of the renewals HF&C currently processes in one day.
In 1946, Jim McLusky passed away. Barney Haylor partnered with Raymond G. Haun to form McLusky, Haylor & Haun. They were quickly joined by Clayton F. Freyer and Burnett (Bud) D. Haylor. Bud described Haun as an "idea-generator" and Freyer as a "do man" or implementer. With the marriage of time-tested philosophies and fresh new perspectives, the agency prospered and, in 1947, moved its offices from the Herald Building to the University Building downtown.
The '50s brought changing times and changing demands for new products and services. Early on, with the addition of Douglas Coon, the agency began specializing in life, medical and income protection insurance, both individual and group, which laid the groundwork for the establishment of James Howard Wayne Association in 1981. Then in 1954, under the leadership of Ray Haun and Clayton Freyer, the agency launched a new program for insuring mobile homes. It provided commercial and personal insurance coverage to mobile homeowners and dealers and later grew to include specialized programs for manufacturers, haulers and installers of mobile homes.
For the next few decades, the agency continued adding new staff with the addition of partner Charlie Wichmann in 1957, 2nd generation partner, James D. Freyer, Sr. in 1959, James A. Stoddard, Sr. in 1967, 2nd generation partner C. Bruce Wichmann in 1971, Victor A. DiSerio in 1974, Wallace (Skip) Conkling in 1980 and Richard C. Howland in 1986. As the agency grew, so did its focus on a concept known as niche marketing. Beginning with the firefighters in the '30s and Group Benefits and Manufactured Housing (mobile homes) in the '50s, HF&C quickly recognized the value of specializing in insurance programs for specific industries.
In the '70s, the growing agency, by then known as Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc., moved to 750 James Street. There it made in-roads in the areas of engineering services and transportation insurance. The Engineering Services Department provided consultation and recommendations on risk exposure, OSHA regulations, workers' compensation issues, property and fire protection and valuation for replacement cost estimates. The Transportation Department, expanding from HF&C's auto and manufactured housing expertise, provided specialty programs for long-haul trucking firms, bus, taxi and limousine operations. The success of these focused niches led HF&C to develop expertise in other areas such as construction and bonding, collegiate student insurance, providing Student Health and Personal Property, and Municipalities & School Districts.
In the '80s, Haylor, Freyer & Coon branched into another profitable enterprise: agency acquisitions. Beginning in 1982 with the acquisition of Goode & Webster, HF&C learned the value of partnering with "local" agencies to establish a presence throughout New York State. The Northern Divisions were soon added in 1984 and with continued acquisitions, Haylor, Freyer & Coon became the largest independently owned insurance agency in the state. In 1989, Haylor, Freyer & Coon settled into its latest corporate offices at 231 Salina Meadows.
As the twenty-first century began, HF&C started its first and largest joint venture. In January 2002, HF&C formed a partnership with Dairy Farmers of America, out of Kansas City. DFA is the largest milk cooperative in the world. This partnership developed a program that provided insurance coverage to large commercial dairies, milk processing plants and milk hauling fleets across the US. It also provided healthcare and benefit programs to member dairy farmers.
Over the years, HF&C has dedicated itself to providing high quality insurance products. However, customer satisfaction and community involvement hold equal importance. Services such as state-of-the-art computer technology and in-house claims reporting allowed the agency to offer its clients the highest quality customer service available. Involvement in a wide range of civic activities, including the YMCA, the United Way, the Community Foundation and various Little Leagues helped the agency maintain a strong community presence across New York State.
The agency continues to grow and apply itself to the needs of its customers, its employees and its community. It has adapted and changed with the times while maintaining key traditions carried on from the beginning. The agency's philosophy is summed up perfectly by Bud Haylor, son of one the founding fathers, "Start small, develop with time and take care of and nurture your projects and clients. At the end of the day, the best salesman is a satisfied customer."