Our Story: Why Union Bay Risk Advisors is in Ontonagon, Michigan

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a remote area of great natural beauty.  Winters are long, and summers are beautiful, but short.  Snowfall in some areas can reach 26 feet; population density in Ontonagon County is 5 hardy people per square mile.  The real Union Bay is a crystal-clear bay on the shores of giant Lake Superior – well worth a plunge if you are ever in the area, and if you can stand water temperatures in the 60s – at best!


Historically, Ontonagon, Michigan was a place people came to take things out of, then leave.  First, in the 1850’s, there was copper and silver.  Then, there was logging; great logging companies bought government-subsidized land, then literally stripped the area bare.  In 1895 a fire that started at a local sawmill burned down the entire town; the company took its profits and left, never to return.   This pattern continued through the 20th century.  In the early 21st century, a private equity-backed paper company took over the local paper mill, leveraged it, took their profits, and bankrupted it.  With no mill, the local railroad went out of business and sold the tracks for scrap.  The last remaining mines slowly petered out.


At one point this century, unemployment reached 25%.  Over time the population of the town of Ontonagon has declined from 5,000 to about 1,500, as people sought opportunities elsewhere.


When we established Union Bay Risk Advisors, we saw an opportunity to bring a little prosperity back to a town that needs it, by focusing on the area’s greatest resource: its people.  Though our main office is in Princeton, NJ, Union Bay provides jobs with benefits to the Ontonagon area, where they are sorely needed.  And we are helping build an insurance expertise in the region that we hope may lead to other businesses moving there, or starting up from scratch.


When you become a client of Union Bay, you’re not only getting great insurance advice and coverage. You’re also helping bring prosperity to rural America, one job at a time.

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