Banking & Finance and Small Business & Startups

Insurance agency acquires firm

February 6, 2015
| By Pete Daly |
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A locally based statewide insurance agency has acquired a long-running firm in a “win-win” deal.

Graves & Company, an insurance and benefits planning firm founded by Craig Graves in Grand Rapids in 1984, was acquired by the Lighthouse Group effective Feb. 1, according to a joint announcement by Graves and Lighthouse president Tom Helmstetter.

Terms of the sale were not released.

Graves & Company

Graves said his small firm, which started with him alone, has grown to six employees and serves about 190 closely held companies in the region, ranging in size up to 750 employees.

Graves & Company provides benefits planning and insurance lines, including life, disability, retirement planning and long-term care insurance.

Graves has been an active member of the insurance industry: he's a Qualifying and Life Member of The Million Dollar Round Table, a national insurance industry association; he recently retired after serving six years on the national advisory board for United Healthcare; and he's served on the West Michigan advisory boards for Humana and Blue Cross Blue Shield. 


Lighthouse, founded in Holland, now has its corporate headquarters in Grand Rapids and employs 250 people at 31 locations across the state.  

The company has about 20,000 personal insurance accounts and also serves about 1,500 corporate clients in benefits and commercial lines, according to Eve Rogus, a Lighthouse vice president.

In the Grand Rapids Business Journal 2015 "Book of Lists," Lighthouse Group ranks No. 1 among "Top Area Business Insurance Agencies" for total business insurance premiums in 2013 with $240 million.

From the standpoint of employee insurance, Lighthouse is the largest producer for Priority Health in Michigan and among the top five producing agencies for Blue Cross Blue Shield.


“With Craig coming on board with his team, it helps Lighthouse continue to grow in the Grand Rapids area and provide the complete range of services,” Helmstetter said.

He added the deal is a “win-win for both of us.”

Graves will continue working at Lighthouse, although his title has not been worked out yet.

“I have no plans of early retirement,” Graves said.

Graves said he started meeting in the fall with a number of agencies that might be interested in acquiring Graves & Company, and Lighthouse was one of them.

“We were looking for a business model that fit our clients and fit our employees” and had the ability to serve his clients’ needs into the future, Graves said.

“By far, Lighthouse was the shining star,” he said.

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