Baker-Hopp & Associates celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. The firm is proud of this historic milestone and of its rich history serving the Detroit area and beyond.
A lot was happening 100 years ago. Globally, WWI was raging on in Europe. Nationally, Woodrow Wilson successfully secured his second term as President. And in Detroit, Ty Cobb was breaking records for the Tigers, the first sanctioned hydroplane race took place on the Detroit River, construction began on the Book Tower, the tallest building in the city (at the time), and Republican Oscar Marx was in the middle of his successful six year term as mayor.
This was also the time when Baker-Hopp & Associates’ roots began taking form when the C.A. Diehl Corporation was founded by two brothers, Edward H Diehl Sr. and Arthur A Diehl. C.A. Diehl was founded on four core principles – integrity, hard work, commitment, and providing excellent service to its customers and the insurance companies they represented.
Feeling that his company could improve on the already great service that C.A. Diehl was providing, Edward Diehl Jr. took complete charge by purchasing the company from his brother prior to World War II.
It was around this same time that John Baker started his own agency, selling life insurance by believing in the same hard work ethic practiced by Edward Diehl.
During this era, due to the war, business was slow and policies were simple. Most of John Baker’s clients were individuals and small businesses that were experiencing difficult times, borrowing against their life policies rather than purchasing new. But both the C.A. Diehl Corporation and John Baker’s agency survived this period by attracting a loyal customer base that appreciated the tremendous service and high ethical nature of their respective insurance agencies.
After World War II ended, John Baker’s eldest son-in law, David Hopp, returned from the war. John saw in David many of the principles that he founded his company on and immediately offered him a position. John and David proved to be a successful team and the business grew. By 1951 the two men had become partners, Baker-Hopp was officially formed, and the agency moved to a larger storefront building in Detroit. The postwar era was also good for the C.A. Diehl Corporation, which continued to grow and prosper.
Both C.A Diehl and the John A. Baker Insurance Agency handed the reigns over to the second generation owners, Guy Mattana and David Hopp Sr., respectively. While the two agencies probably often competed for the same clients, Guy and David developed a feeling of mutual admiration and respect for the way each other conducted business.
It is believed many agencies approached the C.A. Diehl Corporation with the prospect of a merger, however Guy decided to merge with Baker-Hopp because of the integrity, honesty and good business practices he had observed in David Hopp and his company. He called him an “honest and forward” man.
Business continued to prosper; in 1967 David Hopp approached his hard-working son, David “Duke” Hopp Jr. to join the agency and become the third generation to enter the business.
Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s,”Duke” took the modest agency and grew its business exponentially via organic growth and acquisitions. His clients were eager to recommend Baker-Hopp for the tremendous service it provided them. In 1988, Baker-Hopp was named in Michigan Business Magazine as the 69th fastest growing privately held company in Michigan.
In 1996, Gretchen Hopp Doyle had a successful career in Chicago working as a public relations professional. But she realized that her calling was to work for her father in the insurance industry, and as a result she moved back home to Detroit in 1996 to join the agency as a Commercial Lines Producer. Adopting the same work ethic and client dedication shown by her previous three generations, Gretchen became Vice-President and a minority stockholder six years later. In 2006, after almost forty years in the industry, David Hopp Jr. retired from the insurance business and sold the agency to Gretchen.
Gretchen acknowledges the key to the success of the business was “staying true to our guiding principles, while forming and maintaining great relationships with our insurance companies, customers, and employees.” While Detroit has changed a great deal in the past century, the pillars of Baker-Hopp & Associates have remained exactly the same. And under Gretchen’s stewardship, the company looks forward to its next 100 years providing industry-leading levels of service, ethical business practices as it provides protection to companies and families in and around Metro Detroit.