After nearly 50 years of business in and around Delaware, Jack Hilborn is ready to call it a career. The longtime owner of Hilborn Insurance will spend his final day in the business surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues in a reception open to all on Thursday, Dec. 16.
The reception will run from 2-5 p.m. and will be held at the Hilborn Insurance office, located at 42 N. Sandusky St. in downtown Delaware. Refreshments will be served during the reception.
Hilborn, a 1967 graduate of Delaware Hayes High School, began working for his father, Wayne, in the business a few years after graduating from Ohio University with a degree in journalism in 1971. Initially, Hilborn served as the manager of public relations for The Drackett Company in Cincinnati.
But after deciding to look for a position that paid better, Hilborn was offered a position with the agency by his father. He didn’t realize at the time that selling insurance would become one of his true callings in life.
“I never thought about that, but it just happened,” Hilborn said. “My dad passed away in 1994, so I assumed ownership of the agency in 1995. I didn’t realize I would be in the insurance game for nearly 50 years.”
Of course, having spent nearly half a century in the industry, Hilborn has seen many changes to the way agencies currently operate. Primarily, he said technology has changed the business “immensely” through the years.
“I would say that the way that we handle claims, they’re pretty much instantaneous now, whereby snail mail, they use to take two or three days to get to a company,” Hilborn said. “Photographs can be emailed immediately. One thing that I’m old school on, and I think it’s time for me to hang it up because of … was the fact that I still like a paper copy of a policy in my hands when a claim happens for whatever reason. Everything now is on computers and stored on computers, so when the computer system goes down, everything goes down.”
Retirement appeared firmly on the horizon for Hilborn after he sold the agency to Steve Brown and Sunbury-based Payne and Brown Agency earlier this year. The acquisition by Payne and Brown Agency ended an 82-year run by Hilborn Insurance as a family-owned business, one of the longest periods for any business in the community. Hilborn said Brown is “much more high tech than I,” and is better suited for the current times.
“I thought the time was right in 2020 to sell the agency to Steve Brown, who has become a wonderful owner in the sense that he is very knowledgeable,” Hilborn said. “He owns six agencies now, and he is chairman of the Ohio Big I, which is our best trade organization in the state for independent agents. He does an excellent job. … I am very pleased that I sold the agency when I did. The time is right.”
Brown has chosen to keep the Hilborn name atop the business to ensure the family legacy continues for many more years to come.
“For us, we don’t have to have the name on the door for the agencies that we operate,” Brown told The Gazette in February. “We do all the work, but the people who built the foundations of the agency, they’re the ones that still need to be recognized for all their efforts that they’ve put into it over the years.
“Hilborn Insurance is an 82-year agency, and their legacy needs to continue beyond the Hilborn family, as far as I’m concerned, for as long as we’re in Delaware, which we will be forever. It’s always going to be called Hilborn Insurance.”
Jacquelyn Mack, who Hilborn called his “key person,” will continue to run the office following Hilborn’s retirement.
While Hilborn’s nearly 50 years of service to the community through the agency has certainly made an impact, his working career hasn’t been his only form of servitude. Hilborn has volunteered his time for a remarkably long list of various groups and organizations, including currently being a board member of the Delaware County Historical Society, National Railway Historical Society, the Grady Hospital Advisory Committee, and a former member and treasurer of Downtown Delaware, which ultimately became Main Street Delaware, just to name a few.
Asked what his proudest act of service to the community has been, however, Hilborn singled out his role as the governor of the Ohio District of Kiwanis International, which he was elected to in 2001, as a high point. Hilborn said the role was something his father had also strived to achieve but was forced to abandon when Hilborn’s mother was killed in a car accident in 1957.
“He had to give up his efforts, so I feel very strongly that that is very special as far as being able to fulfill something that my dad was not able to do,” Hilborn said.
Hilborn hopes to remain as active in the community as he has been through the decades, although he added that he will take some time “to figure things out and where I want to go with the rest of my life.”
“It’s certainly been a long career in the agency, and it has afforded me the opportunity to have given back in a number of different ways to the community,” he said.
One of the things Hilborn said he’ll definitely take advantage of in retirement is having more time to spend with family, including a son who lives in central Ohio and a daughter who resides in Utah.
Whatever Hilborn chooses to do in the next chapter of his life, he said it will certainly still include living in his hometown.
“Delaware is my home,” he said. “I was born here and raised here, came back from Cincinnati, and been here most of my life. We’re not going to leave.”
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.