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The year was 1929.  Wall Street was crashing.  America's economy was heading into a depression.  Despite a bleak fiscal forecast, one man had the vision to start a company that would help protect his neighbors from further financial ruin.  That man was James F. Reagan of Marcellus. 


"He went door-to-door educating his neighbors about how taking out insurance policies would help protect what they had left-their families, their houses, their farms, their crops, their livestock," said James P. Reagan, the retired son of Reagan Agency founder, James F. Reagan.


The James P. Reagan Agency of Marcellus is celebrating 80 years of dedicated service.  The firm has grown over the years by adding a financial services division, a commercial insurance and risk management department and a bond department.  Even though their client list spreads over 15 states in the Northeast, their home base has remained exactly where James F. Reagan opened the business decades ago on Main Street in the small village of Marcellus, 10 miles west of the City of Syracuse.


"We've expanded our building four times, but we never even gave a thought to ever moving," said James P. Reagan.  "Marcellus is where our roots are.  Although it probably seemed a little unusual to some that we were located outside of a city, we are comfortable here.  Our employees are comfortable here." 


Reagan says modern technologies have helped bridge the gap of distance between the office and their clients, but he remembers a day when doing business wasn't so easy.  Just ten years after starting the business, his father died unexpectedly in an accident.  His mother, Mary B. Reagan, a former teacher in Marcellus' one-room schoolhouse on East Hill, didn't let a single ball drop.  She did what she had to do for her young family and took over the business, running it exactly as her husband had. 


"My mother was not afraid to walk right into dairy barns filled with cows and manure to talk to a farmer about insurance," remembers James P. Reagan.  "It was a bit unusual back then for women to have such a role, but she was very resilient and she was successful."


Mary B. Reagan continued to run the business even when her two sons were called to duty during World War II.  James P. Reagan says he and his brother, Bernie, were able to attend college, thanks to the G.I. Bill.  Although they worked in the office on and off during their college educations and beyond, James P. eventually became a school teacher and coach for the Jordan Elbridge School District and his brother, after completing law school, served as a justice of the peace, a town supervisor, a county legislator, a county Surrogate Court judge and finally as a State Supreme Court justice. 


"Bernie opened his law practice in the Reagan Agency building.  He and my mother shared a secretary," said James P. Reagan. 


In 1963, James P. Reagan left the classroom to take over the business for his mother.  He was very proud when his three sons expressed interest in the insurance business.  "I sent them all off to college and to get some experience," he said.  Mike Reagan joined the agency right after college in 1978.  His brothers, Ned and Rick, followed him into the business. After graduating from college, Ned went to work for the Aetna Casualty Insurance Company in its "Executive Training Program".   After three years of training, he joined the Reagan Agency in 1986.  After receiving his Masters Degree, Rick came aboard in 1991. 


"Surprisingly, the boys all get along.  I think their roles in the agency are well-suited to their personalities," James P. Reagan said.  Mike is the agency's President. Ned is the Commercial Sales Manager and Vice President; while Rick manages the Financial Services Division and is also Vice President.


The Reagan Companies, with the assistance of its fifty dedicated employees, is now one of the largest insurance and risk management firms in Central New York. The agency serves as a leader and trusted advisor for more than 4,000 Personal & Commercial clients and 1,000 Financial clients; and is recognized nationally as a top-performing agency by the Marsh Berry Organization.


"Our employees contribute greatly to our success," said James P. Reagan.  "They are faithful and loyal.  Some of them have been with us for more than 20 years." 


James P. Reagan lives in Marcellus with his wife of 55 years, Jean.  He officially retired from the agency in 1990 but still comes into the office regularly and is involved in local church and community affairs.  He spends the winters in Sun City, Arizona with his wife.

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