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Published: Wednesday, 9/15/2010

OTT: Hylant Group, Ability Center celebrate anniversaries


Giant sparkling “diamonds” were scattered everywhere for the 75th anniversary of the Hylant Group as employees, family, friends, and clients celebrated Sept. 8 at corporate headquarters in downtown Toledo.

The building at 811 Madison Ave. is a great place for a party with a spacious lobby and patio. Nearly 700 guests mingled, sharing their favorite stories of connections with the Hylant Group, and there was a historic timeline with pictures, including one of its founder, Edward P. Hylant.

The firm, started in 1934, is the 10th largest privately held insurance brokerage firm in the United States, according to the Hales Report, and the 24th largest broker in the country, according to Business Insurance magazine, which named it among the 2010 best places to work in insurance. Hylant has more than 620 employees in 12 offices in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Tennessee to serve customers locally, nationally, and internationally.

Richard Hylant, president of the Toledo office, welcomed everyone.

A proclamation presented from the city and Mayor Mike Bell said the “Hylant Group is a great example to other businesses and people” because of its commitment to the community.

Margaret and Otto Kniffke at the Ability Center's 90th anniversary celebration reception at The Pinnacle in Maumee. Margaret and Otto Kniffke at the Ability Center's 90th anniversary celebration reception at The Pinnacle in Maumee.
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From 1936 with $140,000 worth of premiums to now with more than $1 billion in premiums, it has come a long way.

In 1942 it was changed to Hylant MacLean. In 1982 the company was sold to the former Dana Corp., but in 1985 it was purchased back by Richard Hylant and Scott Stewart. In 2004, it was moved to its current home and the name was changed to The Hylant Group Inc. with Patrick Hylant, chairman, and Mike Hylant, CEO.

Mike Hylant said 12 family members are active in the business, and that number swells in the summer, he joked. They include Pat Hylant, Sr., Steve Hylant, Jeannie Hylant, Mike Hylant, Richard Hylant, Pat Hylant, Jr., Andrew Berenzweig, Clare Hylant, Jan Roberts, Scott Stewart, Becky Stewart, and Jonathon Stewart.

Richard Hylant said the firm's motto is “work hard, play hard, and give back and better than you found it.”

• The Ability Center celebrated its 90th anniversary with a big to-do Sept. 9 at The Pinnacle.

Friends, food, music, cake, and historical memorabilia were all part of the party. The casual after-work gathering included a light dinner and music by the Trainwreckers on the patio in truly wonderful weather. For the some 200 in attendance who wanted a peek at their future, there were astrology readings by Sue Lovett, a past president of the auxiliary to the Ability Center.

The auxiliary, which started in 1936, was re-established in 1984, and its current president is Claudia Sundberg. Among the past presidents are Jill Kopanis, Sue Cardone, Joyce Stenberg, the late Diane Churdar, Sue Zelma, Marcy McMahon, Kathryn Fell, Paula Tuschman, the late Margaret Hilfinger, the late Virginia Peters, Margie Rummel, and Julie Etzel. Among other things, the auxiliary supports Independent Living and Camp Cricket, a day camp for children with and without disabilities.

Left, Sean O'Mara and Alan Lake. Right, Dan Wilkins and Tim Harrington. Left, Sean O'Mara and Alan Lake. Right, Dan Wilkins and Tim Harrington.
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The Ability Center was established in 1920 as “a Toledo Rotarian dream to help children with disabilities — the Toledo Society for Crippled Children,” said Dan Wilkins, director of community relations.

The current board president is Pam Howell-Beach, and the executive director is Tim Harrington.

Their next big event is the 26th annual fashion show fund-raiser Wednesday at Parkway Place.

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