In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt gave his second inaugural address in Washington, DC, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married in New York City, and Peter G. Ten Eyck founded the Ten Eyck Group in Albany, New York. In that same year, Peter G. D. Ten Eyck, the only son of Peter G., was born. Also born in that year was actress Greta Garbo, choreographer Agnes DeMille, sportswriter Red Smith and novelists Mary Renault and John O’Hara.
More than fifty years before Albany became a chartered city in 1686, Conraedt Ten Eyck sailed from Holland, settling in New Amsterdam, the first of 12 generations of the family prospering to this day in the Capital Region of New York. Over the years, members of the family served as congressmen, mayors and judges, artists and silversmiths, aldermen, sheriffs and county clerks, lawyers and farmers.
In 1873 Peter Gansevoort Ten Eyck, “A Man of Varied Activities,” was born in the historic Gansevoort Mansion on Whitehall Place, the last person born in that famous home before its destruction by fire in 1883. Educated at Albany Academy and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he studied civil engineering, he entered the service of the New York Central railroad, becoming the engineer in charge of signal service for all the company’s lines. His career as a signal engineer was notable and he was frequently called upon as a consulting railway engineer. It has been written that, ”his chief recreation” was farming and raising thoroughbred cattle. His interest in public affairs led to his great political strength in the Democratic Party, and he was elected to Congress in 1913 and again in 1920. A leader of numerous organizations during his lifetime, he was active in the Insurance Federation of the State of New York, solving the insurance problems of the state, bringing about a better understanding between the insured and the insurance companies. He died at his summer residence in Altamont, New York in 1944.
Peter G. D. Ten Eyck, Peter G. Ten Eyck’s only son, was born on April 4, 1905 in Albany. A graduate of Cornell University, he bred Guernsey cattle at the family farm, Indian Ladder. In 1930, he joined his father at the Ten Eyck Insuring Agency, which was incorporated in 1932. He became president of the firm in 1944, remaining leader of the agency until 1974, when he was succeeded by his son John Ten Eyck. During that time, Peter G.D. Ten Eyck managed both Indian Ladder Farms and the insurance agency, relocating the firm as it grew at a controlled rate, always up to date with the products and services that his customers needed. He was noted with high regard for his honesty and his emphasis on service. Peter G. D. Ten Eyck died in 1980.
In the 1960’s, John and Peter Ten Eyck, sons of Peter G. D. Ten Eyck, both joined the firm. Peter left the agency to manage the family farm. John became president of Ten Eyck Group in 1974, leading the firm until his retirement in 2002. The Ten Eyck family today continues its role of community leadership in the Capital Region.
1905-1944: The Ten Eyck Insuring Agency
One of the oldest insurance firms in upstate New York, the firm was first located in the Tweedle Building in Albany, moving to 74 Chapel Street in the 1930’s, a building that Peter G. Ten Eyck purchased as an investment. Folklore has it that the firm was started after Peter G. Ten Eyck’s company, the Federal Signal Company, burned to the ground without insurance.
Peter G. D. Ten Eyck joined his father in the agency which became incorporated in 1932. The firm grew during these years prior to and during World War I and World War II, while Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson. Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt served in the U.S. presidency, tumultuous years of economic and political and social upheavals. Through all the seeds of change that were sown in those years, Ten Eyck Insuring Agency focused on superb service to its customers, offering commercial and residential products to meet the needs of the day, growing as needed – and only as needed.
Peter G. D. Ten Eyck hired the agency’s first general manager, Henry Gott, in the 1940’s as the firm and staff expanded. Gott remained manager of the agency until 1972. During this time and after the death of Franklin Roosevelt, the country was led by Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Americans continued to serve in World War II and then took part in the Korean and Vietnam wars through the 1950’s and 1970’s. The latter half of the twentieth century was marked by growth and recession and unparalleled advances in communication and technology.
The sixties saw the addition of the next generation of the Ten Eyck family into the business. In 1961, Peter Ten Eyck joined the agency. In 1964, John Ten Eyck, Peter’s brother, joined the firm. Their father, Peter G. D. Ten Eyck was at the helm of the agency until 1974, moving its headquarters from its 74 Chapel Street home to 50 State Street in 1971.
Gerald Ford became president of the United States in 1974 and John Ten Eyck became president of Ten Eyck Group in that same year. Unlike President Ford, who was succeeded by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush during this time period, John Ten Eyck remained the only president of the firm until 2002. The firm did move its headquarters a few more times – in 1978 to the Tower Building in Stuyvesant Plaza, to Two Executive Park in 1987 and then, finally in the year 1998 to the company’s newly constructed office on Western Avenue.
John Nash, joined Ten Eyck Group in 1974. "Jack" as he was popularly known, had been a special agent for the Continental Insurance Company and with INA and was recruited by John Ten Eyck as a producer. Jack soon became a full partner and with a solid background in finance, Jack assumed the position of controller overseeing the agency's financial affairs. Jack became President of the firm in 2002 upon John Ten Eyck's retirement and served in that capacity until his unexpected death in December of 2006.
Jack was instruemental in persuading Charles Barnes to join the firm in 1985 adding the business of the Charles T. Barnes Agency, Inc. and forming the Ten Eyck Group. Charlie began his insurance career with the Hartford Insurance Company as a commercial lines property and casualty underwriter in 1971 and later served as a marketing special agent with the Royal Globe Insurance Company. After a successful career with a local city agency, Charlie started his own firm, building a sizeable portfolio of commercial and personal business. Charlie assumed the position of President upon Jack's death in 2006. Charlie oversees agency operations.
In 1988, Christopher Brassard was recruited by the partners from their primary carrier, Aetna Casualty Insurance Company. Chris was a marketing representitive with expertise in commercial insurance and a superb educational background in business and finance from SUNY Albany. Chris became Executive Vice President and a full partner in 1991. Chris manages finances and sales.
Both of the current owners came to the company with the experience of working for large insurance companies. Employees have served in the company for an average of 12.6 years, an astonishing length of stay in today’s commercial insurance environment. One employee has been with the company for 54 years.
One hundred years ago, Peter G. Ten Eyck set a standard with his extraordinary community work. A strong commitment to community service continues as a hallmark of the firm today. Members of the firm contribute time, resources and expertise to charitable organizations throughout the Capital Region. All employees are encouraged to become involved with their communities.
Twenty-first century business practices, a strong vision and a respect for tradition are values that are building the modern Ten Eyck Group as it faces the challenges of the day, armed with its century-old reputation, highly regarded for its integrity, honoring the past and celebrating the future.