Fifty years ago – when gasoline was 30 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread cost 21 cents – Michael M. Bill and his partner, James B. Ritter, founded MJ Insurance.

Five decades later, MJ Insurance is one of the top 100 independently-owned insurance agencies in the U.S. with clients in every U.S. state and in 16 different counties. As it celebrates, its 50th anniversary in 2014, the Indiana-based agency isn’t resting on its laurels, rather, looking to the future.

“While many things have changed since my father started MJ, one thing has remained consistent – our tireless passion to help our clients and others with the best service possible,” said Michael H. Bill, the firm’s CEO since 2006. “My father instilled professionalism, honesty and integrity into everyone at MJ from day one. Today, this is still our guiding philosophy.”

Offering diverse and effective expertise

With its headquarters in Indianapolis and an office in Arizona, MJ Insurance specializes in a diverse selection of unique service lines including construction, energy, transportation, real estate, manufacturing, sororities, Japanese-owned businesses and mining. MJ also offers complete employee benefits programs including major medical, group disability, group life and onsite employer clinics.

MJ Insurance has also been strategic by aligning itself with many global partners and carriers which have helped fuel the agency’s growth and depth of expertise. Carrier partners, for instance, allow MJ to manage specific areas of risk in key service lines and help clients achieve their business goals while supporting continued growth for MJ.

In addition, as health care reform has taken root over the past several years, MJ has focused its efforts and have become known as nationally-recognized thought leaders in all things related to employee benefits and the impact reform will have on businesses and employees.

Still, as Michael M. Bill sees it, the business boils down to relationships and trust. “That’s really the bottom line – people have to trust us,” added the MJ founder. “We’ve worked hard over the years to build our clients’ trust and I still get excited when we win over new clients and establish new relationships while nurturing and moving forward with our existing partners. It’s a people business, we understand and embrace that.”

Growing with the times

MJ Insurance traces its origins to a successful firm that James Ritter had in Anderson, Indiana. In 1973, Michael M. Bill bought out James Ritter and continued to grow the agency to the success it enjoys today.

MJ Insurance has roughly 125 employees and continues to grow. The agency has posted a profit for each of its 50 years culminating with record revenues that exceeded $25 million in fiscal 2013. Not surprisingly, more than 50 percent of MJ employees have been there for decades and today are mentoring the next generation of company leaders. In fact, there are 43 MJ employees with more than a decade of tenure; 14 employees with more than 20 years and 10 employees who have been with MJ for more than 30 years.

MJ has earned several award accolades throughout the years and regularly is named one of the “best places to work” and as a “top employer” in the industry.

Over the years, MJ Insurance has refined its approach to the insurance business. The company has deep depth in risk management assessment and takes a consultative approach to help provide expert advice and counsel.

Many MJ clients have worked with the agency for decades.

While Michael M. Bill’s son now runs the company, and opened MJ’s Phoenix office in 2004, the founder still comes to work every day and remains engaged in the business he founded five decades ago. “What we do makes a huge difference in the community, in the lives of people and in the businesses we serve,” he said. “We don’t take the responsibility lightly and continue to work hard to achieve our goals. Our work isn’t done – we’re just getting started.”