Our History

 

Williams-Manny Insurance was founded in 1896 by Henry “Hank” Williams who began his insurance career as an employee of the Rockford Fire Insurance Company.  At the age of 25 he launched his own firm using his mother’s sewing machine stand as a desk.  Hank had a weakness for plaid flannel shirts, Windsor ties and wide brimmed felt hats.  He was known for his creativity, and was known to follow passing lumber trucks to find out who was building a house or factory and then would write the insurance on it.

 

 

Henry “Hank” Williams “An avid photographer, he captured one of the best fire shots of the era – of Rockford’s Second Congregational Church as flames leaped through its upper floor windows. He was paid $25 by the Chicago Tribune for two prints and an accompanying story; and an illustration of the photograph appeared on his agency’s letterhead for fifty years.”

 

 




Within 6 years he represented more than 3 dozen insurers and his increasing volume of work allowed him to hire his first solicitor, Frank Wormwood, who later became partner.  In 1908 Dwight Manny, a banking professional joined the firm briefly before moving briefly to Oklahoma.  Upon his return to Rockford he rejoined the firm in 1913 as partner and the firm was named “Williams-Manny Company”.  It should be noted that Dwight Manny was the grandson of John P. Manny, inventor of the reaper who prevailed, with Abraham Lincoln as associate counsel, in a patent infringement suit brought by Cyrus McCormick.  The Manny family had deep roots in the Rockford area, once owning the mansion located at 737 N Main Street which is the present day location of the Burpee Museum, once called the Manny Mansion.

 


Williams-Manny Insurance became a member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in the year 1921.

The agency remained in 2 locations for much of its existence including the 2nd floor of the Rockford Trust building
on State and Main St. and the 6th floor of the Joisted Masonry Brown Building. 

Henry Williams died in 1945 and Dwight Manny died in 1964 at the age of 87, his final resting place is the Greenwood Cemetery in Rockford, Illinois.

 

 

 

 

In the years 1974 – 1989 the firm had offices at 1111 S. Alpine Road on the 4th Floor. 

 



 

 

  • After moving to the current location on Perryville Road, Williams-Manny merged with Herrling & Schmitt, Inc., a longstanding insurance agency in Freeport.
  • Williams-Manny received the “Agency of the Year “award by the Professional Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois.
  • Williams-Manny was named a “Best Practices” agency by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.
  • Merged with Midwest Life and Health group in 2007 to double the size of our benefit operations
  • Acquired John H. Camlin Company in 2008, which dates back to 1860
  • Acquired Langan, Haeger, Vincent & Born in 2013 which added an additional office in Wheaton, Illinois
  • Aquired Dale Lang Agency

 

 

 

An excerpt from a letter from our President, Dan Ross announcing Williams-Manny winning the Employers That Rock award in 3 categories.

“On behalf of the board of directors, it is my sincere pleasure to announce that, based upon your votes, Williams-Manny has been selected in three categories as an “Employer that Rocks” in the Rock River Valley.  Specifically, we were selected as one of the best in the region for employers with 75-300 employees in the following categories:  Best Overall Company to Work For, Best Workplace Culture and Best Boss: Dan Ross.  The winners will be featured in an upcoming special section of the Rockford Register Star this weekend. 

As you all know, we rolled out our vision statement in December of 2014, which included a statement that “…Williams-Manny Insurance Group will be considered an employer of choice in the region”.  Each component of that statement is critical to the overall success of the agency, and none is more important than ensuring that we are providing the best workplace possible.  Without each of you, we can accomplish nothing, and we cannot think of an award that means more to us as a company than one selected by you.  On a personal note, I am deeply humbled and grateful for your support, and I consider myself blessed to serve you.”

 


Williams-Manny was inducted in to the Northern Illinois Business Hall of Fame during the annual Founders' Day Celebration.  The event was hoted by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce at Rockford University. 

 


After many years of on South Street in Freeport, the Freeport office relocated to better serve our clients.  The new location at 2900 West Pearl City Road in Freeport at the Stewart Centre West building allows for a more spacious and expanded office space.  An Open House was celebrated along with a Ribbon Cutting with the Freeport Chamber of Commerce.
 

Since being founded in 1896, we have grown both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.  Our agency is headquartered in Rockford, with offices in Freeport, Wheaton and most recently in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Williams-Manny currently employs over 100 staff members across our offices.