Ken Knight of Knight Insurance Group Finds Continued Success—and his New Home—In the Warehouse District
Not many businesses can say that they’ve been around since before the Civil War, but Downtown Toledo’s own Knight Insurance Group can proudly make that claim. Since being founded as the Shawen, Stieg & Whitaker Agency in 1859, the company has not only undergone several name changes, but many other changes in general—ranging from how many products they offer to what type of insurance services they have.
“The business has changed dramatically over the years,” said Ken Knight, owner and Chairman of the Board. “The company started as fire and casualty insurance. There were no cars—or a need for car insurance—in the Civil War era.” As you can imagine, there also wasn’t much need for cyber insurance back in the 1850s, but today, it’s one of the company’s newest products. “It’s just an example of how insurance evolves with the times,” Knight Insurance Group COO Diane Keil-Hipp said. “Even five years ago, we weren’t talking about cyber insurance.”
After purchasing the business from their father, Keith, in 1982, Ken and his brother KC spent several years in its old location before moving Knight Insurance Group to where it stands today at 22 North Erie Street. It was a move that has served the company well, even as they’ve grown from a modest five or six employees to the nearly 40 people they now employ. And, speaking of their employees, Ken is quick to explain what sets his team apart. “A Knight employee is not the same as an employee of another agency,” he said. “We have three values that our employees strive for every day—Exceptional Standards, Enduring Relationships and Relentless Focus. We expect a lot of our people—and they deliver.”
As a result of their hardworking team, Knight Insurance Group has experienced continued success over the years. For Ken, the fact that it’s happened alongside Downtown Toledo’s revitalization is just the icing on the cake. Having been involved with the Warehouse District since 1996, Ken credits the Mud Hens, St. Clair Village and one person in particular—Kathy Steingraber—with the area’s growth and resurgence. “Kathy was the impetus of getting residential downtown, in my opinion,” Ken said.
And, after recently purchasing the DWF wholesale florist building, Ken and his wife, Deborah, will soon be able to call themselves Downtown residents. “After the building came up for sale, we decided to go for it to simplify our life,” Ken said. With the help and expertise of Mike Moriarty of Moriarty Construction, the couple is officially underway with their renovation of the building. Their immediate plans include adding a workout center and yoga studio for Knight Insurance Group employees, as well as green space around the building and an outdoor area to enjoy the beautiful Downtown views.