2-5-15-Schroeder Family Business

This is the service counter of the Ford Dealership on Rochester Road south of Big Beaver in 1926. Pictured from left to right are Harold Boeing, Elmer M. Schroeder, Oliver Schroeder, Clarence Pressel, Edward Weber and an unknown salesman.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Oldest Continuing Business in Troy

When you walk into the modern offices of E.M. Schroeder Insurance your eyes are immediately drawn to the old brass cash register on the counter. It’s the same cash register seen in the photo and remains a fixture in the family-owned business begun in 1920 when Elmer Martin Schroeder and his partner Henry Esemen opened a garage in Big Beaver (the intersection of Big Beaver and Rochester Roads). Two years later it became a Ford dealership helping to fulfill Henry Ford’s goal that every town should have a convenient Ford outlet. Auto Owners Insurance approached the men in 1923 and suggested they sell insurance with the cars.

“That’s how we got into the insurance business,” explained Elmer’s son, Oliver Schroeder (known as Ollie), who passed away in 2014. “That’s me, next to the cash register.” He pointed to the snapshot taken at the dealership service center counter. “I did odd jobs for my dad when I was a kid.”

Henry Esemen left the business around 1937, and after World War II Ford Motor Company eliminated the dealership. “But I liked insurance more than selling cars,” said Ollie. After he was discharged from the army, Ollie expanded E.M. Schroeder Insurance to provide life, homeowners, and automobile insurance. There have been other changes. The company relocated six times in ninety-five years. Daughter Joan Oliver took over the business when Oliver retired in 1985, and son-in-law Lyle became a partner in 1987. But the pride of owning the oldest family business in Troy shines as brightly as the polished brass cash register.

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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