“Our purpose is to save driving and car culture for future generations, and that is not going to happen without resources and without a reason. We’re going public to help fulfill the mission, to build an organization that can contribute to the purpose, an organization that is big enough. It can’t be done in a big non-profit way. It’s going to take (the car) clubs and (collector car) businesses, but also a couple of big players.”
— McKeel Hagerty
That quote comes from an interview McKeel Hagerty did with the ClassicCars.com Journal a few days before he and his team would be on the balcony above the trading floor earlier this moth to ring the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange in celebration of Hagerty, the company, going public.
Hagerty, the person, believes that Hagerty, or HGTY as the company is being traded on the NYSE, will be one of those “big players” preserving the pleasure many of us derive from driving, from being in control of the steering wheel and deciding where that freedom will take us, whether we’re driving cross town or cross country on public roads or unpaved trails or testing ourselves and our vehicles on race tracks.
Such big players are needed, he had said previously, to have influence with legislators and policy makers. In the meantime, he has grown Hagerty from a mom-and-pop insurance agency into an automotive lifestyle company that is among the largest in the world of automotive print, video and social media, and in 2021 not only continued to add events to the Hagerty portfolio, but launched a non-profit foundation, and a stock sale that has Hagerty Inc. valued at nearly $5 billion.
Even before going public earlier this month, in 2021:
- Hagerty acquired ownership of the Concours d’Elegance of America and announced the event, which several years ago moved from Meadow Brook Hall north of Detroit to Plymouth, Michigan, west of Motown, would move again, this time to the Detroit Institute of Arts facility on historic Woodward Avenue in 2022.
- Expanded its operations in the UK by establishing a partnership with The Ace Cafe, historic home to the famed “Ton-Up Boys” and its collection of cafe-racer motorcycles.
- Launched the Hagerty Drivers Foundation, a non-profit organization to promote automotive education, culture and innovation. The new foundation also replaces the Historic Vehicle Association partnership in the national Historic Vehicle Register and its “Cars at the Capitol” showcase on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and launched with a $400,000 fund to support automotive educational program and $500,000 for grants to small automotive service businesses.
- Added to its portfolio the famed Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, which recently celebratde its 25th anniversary under founder Bill Warner.
- Announced the acquisition of the McCall’s Motorworks Reunion, the annual Monterey Car Week kickoff party at the Monterey Jet Center.
- Expanded and hosted its first concours, the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, which it acquired before the coronavirus pandemic.
- Became through the Hagerty Drivers Club sponsor of the Radford (nee: Bondurant) Racing School.
- Opened the fifth Hagerty Garage + Social collector car storage and event facility in a 49,000-square-foot building in Redmond, Washington. It previously established such facilities in Delray Beach, Florida; New York; Chicago; and Toronto.
And then, at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern) on December 6, there was the bell-ringing on Wall Street.
But the listing on HGTY on the NYSE isn’t the end; it’s merely the next step.
“We have lots of things we’re looking at,” McKeel Hagerty said in our December interview. “I can tell you we didn’t go public to go small. We went public to grow the enterprise and to create more.”