Hagerty started in the 1980s as an insurance agency for classic boats and cars, but it has grown and diversified in the auto industry — and now it needs to attract new and young talent to keep it rolling, says CEO McKeel Hagerty.
There is a touch of irony in the business: For a company that has built its reputation on antique vehicles and collectibles, the accent is now on young people. Hagerty estimates that nearly 60 percent of his company's approximately 1,000 employees are millennials.
"People come to work for us because we're an automotive company," says Hagerty, scheduled to speak Thursday at the seminars about attracting young employees. "We happen to sell insurance as our primary business, but they see us connected to the automotive passion side of it."
In recent years, Hagerty has expanded in such areas as roadside assistance, overseas shipping and touring coverage, education services and automotive publishing.
"We're a business that has a clear purpose. We're out there trying to really be the company at the forefront of talking about the passion and love of the automobile as something that still is vital and important, even in the coming age of autonomous vehicles. People like that."
Hagerty bills itself as "the world's largest membership, insurance and media organization for collectible vehicles and owners." Its print magazine and online presence have found a following, while other outlets in the automotive media world have struggled with circulation and advertising, Hagerty said.
He credits the company's recruiting success in large part to understanding the workplace characteristics younger people desire. That begins with a company whose purpose goes beyond making a profit, Hagerty maintains. It means that employees must have a voice in shaping their work environment, that their time schedule will be as flexible as practical and that investments will be made in employees' personal and professional development.
"I'm interested in finding out how to get the best talent," he said, "not just in filling a spot."
For nearly 20 years, Hagerty has been a member of YPO, formerly known as Young Presidents' Organization, and was chairman of the group in 2016 and 2017. That experience helped him develop ideas and solutions about younger talent.
Hagerty has hired 100 people this year and expects to hire more than that next year. About 760 of the employees are at the company's headquarters in downtown Traverse City, Mich. But Hagerty also has a presence in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Golden, Colo.; Duesseldorf, Germany; Toronto; and London.
"Car people have really started to look at us as a community that knits it all together," he said. "Compared to car clubs around the world that have a relatively flat membership, we are a membership organization that also happens to sell insurance. That tends to create a an uplift to help us grow."