The business might be new to South Muskoka but the name is anything but.
AW Shier Insurance in Bracebridge and Gidley & Associates Insurance in Gravenhurst have now officially be rebranded under the Stan Darling Insurance banner.
Stan Darling Insurance has actually been the majority owner of both companies since 2013, and sole owner since 2018.
The company is owned and run by brothers Stephen and Jason Darling, who currently have brokerages in Sundridge and Burks Falls. Their roots in the community and in the insurance business run deep.
“Our grandfather Stan Darling started selling insurance out of his house in Burks Falls in 1938 to friends and family,” says Stephen. “At that time there was no one locally who could help out with that kind of thing.”
Stan eventually moved the business out of his house and onto the main street of Burks Falls. He was heavily involved in community organizations and eventually was elected Reeve of Burks Falls, a position he would hold for some 30 years.
In 1972, Stan decided to take a run at federal politics and was elected the Member of Parliament for Parry Sound – Muskoka. He would go on to win the next five subsequent elections until he retired at the age of 81.
“He loved attending all of the fall fairs and the 50th anniversaries and the birthday parties,” says Stephen. “People used to say that anytime five people gathered somewhere, the sixth person would be Stan Darling.”
Stephen says his grandfather’s legacy is part of the reason why the name stayed the same when his father and uncle took over the business in 1972 and why it remains the same to this day.
“He’s the pedigree that we all aspire to,” says Stephen.
Stephen and his brother Jason were involved in the business for several years before they took over in 2002. In 2013 they bought 2/3 shares in Gidley and Shier before taking over in 2018.
Although the name won’t be officially used until July 1, Stan Darling Insurance has been active in Muskoka for many years.
The Stan Darling Scholarship Award is presented to a local student at each of the high schools in Parry Sound Muskoka who is going into a post-secondary career in the environmental sciences.
“Protection of the environment was really his passion in federal politics. He was involved with it before it became a mainstream issue and he had no problem defending it,” says Stephen. “In fact when the US-Canada Air Quality Agreement was signed (in 1991) he was presented with the pen used by President Bush and Prime Minister Mulroney to sign the agreement, because of all the work he had done.”
As for the nuts and bolts of swapping over the two companies to the Stan Darling Insurance brand, Stephen says customers shouldn’t expect to see too many changes.
“Everything will essentially stay the same – the staffing, the phone numbers. The email addresses will change but the old ones will still be forwarded to the new addresses,” he says.
The changeover should be a benefit to most customers as they will now get assistance from the other area offices when necessary.
“We feel like this puts us in a great position because now we’re able to focus on individuals and businesses at a local level and find those solutions that work with their specific needs,” he says.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!