McCrabb: Family-owned insurance agency spans four generations, 100 years in Middletown

Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Craig Moon, Tal Moon, Kyle Kilburn, Katy Canter-Davis and Bryan Canter. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Caption
Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Craig Moon, Tal Moon, Kyle Kilburn, Katy Canter-Davis and Bryan Canter. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Vernon Moon and George Adrion had no idea the insurance agency they started in 1921 would be in business in 2021 like a person who plants a seed never envisions the shade it will provide.

But 100 years after Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency was founded, it continues serving thousands of clients from its office on North Breiel Boulevard in Middletown. While technology has changed rates from being stored on hand-written, 3-by-5-inch index cards to computers, the one constant has been a member of the Moon family.

Vernon Moon’s son, grandson and great-grandson all have worked for the insurance agency.

“I don’t know that they thought that long term,” Craig Moon said when asked about grandfather’s business lasting 100 years.

His grandfather’s “unique business model” has been key to the company’s consistency, he said. All agents handle their own clients. If they want to take off work and play golf in the afternoon, they don’t ask for permission.

“We’re all chiefs and there are no indians,” Craig Moon, 67, said while sitting in a downstairs conference room. “We are it. It’s in your blood. It becomes you.”

Moon and Adrion, 100 years ago, had a motto: “Keeping promises since 1921.”

The same holds true today, said Tal Moon, 40, a fourth-generation insurance agent. He said most family owned businesses don’t survive the second generation.

“This is really special,” he said. “It’s hard for the next generation to have that same passion that started the company. We’re lucky, blessed or fortunate, whatever you want to call it. It’s a tremendous privilege and a tremendous responsibility.”

Kyle Kilburn, 37, sitting at the end of the table, added: “You don’t want to be the generation that messes it up.”

Bryan Canter, 66, became his father’s personal assistant in 1975 since he couldn’t find work elsewhere. He hasn’t left. Over the last century, he said, about every Middletown family has been affiliated with the insurance agency.

“Our fingerprints are all over the community,” Canter said.

Kilburn said the insurance business — like most businesses — is about building relationships. Treating your customers more like friends than a number. He said one of his clients was involved in a car crash Wednesday night.

Instead of calling a toll-free number, the person called Kilburn on his cell phone.

“That goes along way,” he said. “You get the guy you know on the phone.”

Craig Moon joked that the 11 people who work in the office handle all jobs, from human resources, painting, vacuuming, cleaning the bathrooms.

“I’m still the janitor,” said Katy Canter-Davis, a 2020 Miami University graduate and the newest to join her father in the company.

Craig Moon pointed to a framed collage of photos that hangs on the wall in the conference room. In the middle of the picture is his grandfather.

Vernon Moon, wearing a suit and tie, is posing for a photo while signing a contract. There are two things on his desk: a rotary phone and an ashtray.

A lot changes over time.

He was asked what his grandfather must be thinking 100 years later. Tears filled his eyes.

“He’s amazed how many lives he has touched,” Moon said. “All the employees, all the people. It’s pretty cool.”


MOON & ADRION INSURANCE AGENCY TIMELINE

1921: Vernon Moon and George Adrion form the insurance agency.

1947: Tom Moon joins his father.

1949: Joe Canter is hired.

1975: Craig Moon joins his father.

1975: Bryan Canter joins his father.

1995: Rob Kilburn is hired.

2006: Kyle Kilburn joins in his father.

2009: Tal Moon joins his father.

2020: Katy Canter-Davis joins her father.

Vernon Moon co-founded Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency with George Adrion in 1921 in Middletown. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Caption
Vernon Moon co-founded Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency with George Adrion in 1921 in Middletown. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Kyle Kilburn, Craig Moon, Bryan Canter, Katy-Canter-Davis and Tal Moon. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Caption
Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Kyle Kilburn, Craig Moon, Bryan Canter, Katy-Canter-Davis and Tal Moon. RICK McCRABB/STAFF

Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Kyle Kilburn, Tal Moon, Craig Moon, Katy-Canter-Davis and Bryan Canter. RICK McCRABB/STAFF
Caption
Moon & Adrion Insurance Agency in Middletown is celebrating 100 years in business. From left: Kyle Kilburn, Tal Moon, Craig Moon, Katy-Canter-Davis and Bryan Canter. RICK McCRABB/STAFF