Not too many businesses can withstand the test of time. The average life span of a business listed in Standard and Poor’s 500 in 1958 was 61 years. Today, that figure is less than 18 years, according to a McKinsey study. Ackley-Peters-Haubert, an independent insurance agency in Eaton Rapids, is proving those numbers wrong as they celebrate 75 years in business. They are the second oldest business in Eaton Rapids, after Pettit Hardware.
In 1946, after returning home from the Navy in World War II, Carl Ackley, an MSU and Harvard Military graduate, purchased the Crawford Insurance Agency, renaming it The Carl Ackley Insurance Service. The office was located upstairs near the corner of Main and Hamlin where it remained until 1949, when it was moved to its current location at 125 South Main. In the 1960’s they established a branch office in Lansing and did about one-third of their business there.
Leonard Peters, who was raised on a farm and was a graduate of Eaton Rapids High School, worked as a bookkeeper and salesman. He served in the Army during the Korean War. Upon his return home from the military, he got to know Carl Ackley through Kiwanis. In 1955, Ackley approached him about joining his business. By 1960 Peters was made a full partner, and the business became known as the Ackley-Peters Insurance Service. In 1977, Mark Haubert joined them as a partner. In 1979 the business became known as the Ackley-Peters-Haubert Insurance Service, Inc. and still is to this day.
Carl Ackley retired in 1980 and passed away in 1995. Leonard Peters retired in 1998 after 43 years of service. Mark Haubert retired in 2018 after 41 years. Rick Acker joined the agency in 2000 and is the current owner.
Although retired, Leonard Peters is still keenly aware of the business. “I still have people come up to me and say, ‘I went to the office and you weren’t there,’ he laughed. “And people tell me about the woman who answers the phone and is really good, giving me the credit! It just makes me feel good.”
‘There are even a few people still driving that I wrote up a policy for in the 1950s, including myself!” he added, with a laugh.
“I owe everything I am to this community,” Peters said. “By the grace of God, without this community I would not be where I am today.”
It works both ways, however, as Peters has devoted most of his life to community service. He was on the Eaton Rapids School Board, the Eaton Intermediate School Board, and on the Eaton Rapids Medical Center Board of Directors. He served as Chairman of the Eaton County Board of Commissioners for 22 years, and still is chairman for both Eaton County Health and Human Services and the Eaton County Health and Rehabilitation Services. He’s earned a 40-year pin through the Red Cross for his work there.
“As you get older you have more time to think about how grateful you are. My life evolved; it was not planned,” Peters said. “The city has been very good to me.”