bill griffey

Sponsor Spotlight: Griffey Insurance

William J. Griffey established Griffey Insurance 101 years ago (submitted photo).

On January 1, 1921, William J. Griffey established Griffey Insurance near the corner of Thompson Ave. and South Street in downtown Excelsior Springs. A lot has happened over the past 101 years and five generations of the Griffey family have been there through it all offering their support to the community of Excelsior Springs. To give some perspective on how long the Griffeys have been in business, consider this:  The first radio station in the United States, KDKA was issued its license on October 27, 1920. Frigidaire introduced the first self-contained refrigerators in 1923. Television was invented in 1925 but the first experimental broadcasts weren’t until 1928. The first automatic, commercial bread-slicing machine wasn’t invented until 1927. You read that right, sliced bread is the greatest thing since Griffey Insurance.

Consistency, reliability, and trust are the foundations of Griffey Insurance. Not only have the Griffeys been in business for over 100 years, but according to Bill Griffey III, their business hasn’t moved more than 200 yards from its original location in all of that time. People also appreciate the one-on-one service that the Giffeys offer.  “If our customers have a question, they don’t have to get out their policy and try to figure it out themselves. They know they can pick up the phone and ask us their questions. They trust that we’re their insurance professionals, and we’re going to take care of them,”  said Bill III. Through the years It’s always been a Griffey who answers the calls, and it’s still that way today. Between the two of them, Bill (III) and his son Bill (IV), handle everything from phone calls, forms, and house visits.

back row, left to right William (Bill) J. Griffey III, William J. Griffey II, Richard Griffey. Seated, Higdon Griffey (submitted photo).

Growing up, Bill’s (III) stepmother worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, and his father ran the business. So he says he always heard stories around the dinner table about the insurance business. Ironically, now Bill’s (III) wife works for Blue Cross, and he’s on the agency side. “So we’re having some of the exact same conversations that my father and stepmother did,” he said. Bill (III) says he didn’t always dream of working in insurance. He said that In high school, a lot of his friends would tease him that he would end up working with his dad. “At that time I was like, there’s no way! I said I’m gonna get out of small-town Excelsior Springs, and go on my own.” And so, after high school, Bill (III) says he did a little bit of college and he did some other jobs, such as construction work, waiting tables, and working in a warehouse. After testing out the waters, he said he realized what a huge opportunity coming into a family business is. 

bill III and bill IV
Bill Griffey, III and his son, Bill Griffey IV in front of their office at 210 South St. (photo Courtney Cole).

Bill (III) said that working with his family has been truly special. Bill (II) was at Griffey Insurance for 59 and a half years and officially retired on January 1, 2020. Sadly, Bill (II) passed away later that same year, on, July 7, 2020. “It was wonderful, I was in business with my father for 33 years. The time we spent together was irreplaceable. I’ve been doing this for 34 years, and now my son, William (IV), has been with me for five and a half.” As a kid Bill (III) says he didn’t appreciate the connections his family had, “I would go out on the weekend, and by the time I got home, my family had already known what I’d done,” he laughed. But, as he got older he realized how valuable those connections are, especially when raising a family of his own. “It’s wonderful to live in a small community. I know the superintendent of schools. I know the fire chief, the police chief, the city manager, if you’re in a bigger place, you don’t have that,” he said.

Although there have been many changes in the insurance business over the years, the one thing that’s remained constant is the relationships the Griffeys have with their clients. Griffey’s clients are not just clients, Bill (III) says they’re his friends and neighbors. “It used to be when we’d go into a grocery store or to Walmart, and I’d be going with dad, it’d take us an hour to buy a gallon of milk. And as my kids were growing up, I was doing the same thing, I’d see so many people out in town, and I’d carry on a conversation and then an hour later, we’d get home with that gallon of milk,” he chuckled. The Griffeys are notoriously generous and have made it a point to support the community that has supported them for so long, whether it’s donations to the city, the hospital, or to the schools. “We’re just thankful that we’ve been in business this long, and Excelsior has allowed us to stay around,” said Bill (III).

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