Seated left to right - Lucy Vasko, Vanessa Coers - Standing - Jane Haun, Mack Steele, Bill Steele and Heather Scalzo

C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers

By Scott Leslie

Keeping people and their property safe is all part of the job for the dedicated insurance experts at Port Colborne’s C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers.
One of the oldest family firms in Niagara, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers is a full-service insurance brokerage specializing in personal insurance, commercial insurance, life insurance, group benefits and other financial solutions.
According to Bill Steele, the company’s owner and president, competitive rates and quality products have been cornerstones of C.M. Steele’s success from the very beginning.
“We can sell any kind of insurance,” he says, “but at the end of the day, we want to give people a policy that’ll work for them. We’re not here to sell them something they don’t need. It’s all about giving them the right product at the right price.”
The independent brokerage was originally founded by Omer Steele in 1898. At the time, Omer sold fire insurance to local residents as well as boiler insurance to various tugboat owners along the Welland Canal.
After nearly forty years in business, Omer’s great nephew Charles took over the business in 1940, and the newly renamed “C.M. Steele Insurance Agency” came into being.
Bill says it was a tremendous opportunity for his father Charles but completely unexpected.
“My dad was away at business college when his great uncle passed away,” Bill explains. “He basically got a call from home, asking if he wanted to take over the business. My dad decided to quit school and moved back home to get his insurance agent’s license.”
But there was trouble brewing ahead. War had broken out overseas, and the young man promptly enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Fortun-ately, the business wasn’t in jeopardy. His father Mervin was given permission to renew insurance policies to their clients and maintained C.M. Steele Insurance Agency until Charles returned from the Second World War.
Over time, C.M. Steele Insurance Agency would continue to prosper. In 1976, however, Charles formed an alliance with a new business partner, Kent Peacock, out of necessity. The business was growing at the time but Charles needed a co-owner because there was no obvious successor. The company wouldn’t enter its third generation until Bill joined the new “C.M. Steele Insur-ance Brokers” in 1982.
“My brother and sisters were never really interested in insurance,” Bill admits. “But I’m glad I joined the firm because it gave me the chance to work with my dad and keep the family tradition going.”
For over a century now, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers has been providing its clients with a wealth of insurance options. When it comes to personal lines of insurance for instance, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers can cover everything from homes and automobiles to antique vehicles and snowmobiles. In terms of commercial insurance, C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers can provide coverage for a variety of industrial, marine, and retail needs including commercial automobiles and fleets.
The C.M. Steele team can even provide a wide range of financial solutions such as RRSPs, RRIFs, GICs and segregated funds as well as life insurance, disability income protection and employee benefit plans.
Bill says being a smaller firm has its advantages, particularly when it comes to offering flexible policies or alternative markets the big insurance providers can’t handle.
“We try to help our clients as much as possible,” Bill explains. “Our big advantage is people can call us direct or come right in and talk to us. There’s no call centres like you have with the big direct writers. People can reach us right away.”
These days, Bill and the C.M. Steele team take great pride in the longevity of the venerable Port Colborne brokerage.
Charles officially retired in 1992, and Kent would retire from the firm in 2015. Now, Bill is the sole owner of C.M. Steele Insurance Brokers but he hasn’t lost sight of the need to look ahead to the next generation. Two and a half years ago, Bill’s son Mackenzie joined the family brokerage after he graduated from Mohawk College and obtained his RIBO license. And Bill’s niece Vanessa Coers was hired as a broker in 1998 after working part-time as a high school student.
It’s all part of the plan to continue offering their clients the innovative insurance products they need and the personal brand of service they deserve — for years to come.