At Morris & Garritano, we embody an enduring passion to provide peace of mind for our clients, ensuring businesses and families are adequately prepared for their future. Our agency’s dedication is deeply rooted in its own heritage with more than a century of experience since our founding in 1885.
We understand and respect the value of service with integrity and have built our reputation on that principle, guided by our own legacy of strong leadership. You are invited to learn more about the trailblazers, their families, and our shared local history that defines who we are today!
The Early Years: 1885-1927
In 1885, Archibald McAlister opens the “Lands, Loans, Rents & Insurance” office on Higuera Street in San Luis Obispo, California. He quickly earns the community’s trust as a kind and upright practitioner.
After 16 years of business, McAlister is invited to participate on the committee to “bond and secure options from which a site could be selected” for the future location of what is now California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
A decade later, the city of San Luis Obispo elects him to serve as Mayor. This same year, the agency gains McAlister’s son-in-law, Ernest Vollmer, among its ranks.
Vollmer brings with him his own impressive merits having graduated early from the University of California, Berkeley after President Roosevelt selected him to serve as vice-consul to China.
Another decade passes and McAlister retires. Vollmer continues the traditions in place, all while also serving as an inheritance tax appraiser for the County of San Luis Obispo. The integrity they shared in their business establishes the foundation of our agency’s core principles today.
In 1927, Vollmer recruits Pete Bachino to the business from the Santa Maria oilfields. Bachino is a people-person, and they respond in kind. His generosity and reliability still serve as standards of excellence in the agency today.
Fast forward to 1935 and Harry Morris enters the industry as a young field representative from the Hartford Insurance Company. Well respected and dedicated to a familiar integrity, Morris begins calling on Bachino and Vollmer.
The 1940s bring some change as Vollmer decides to take a step back and focus on ranching. Les Stockird of London and Lancashire Insurance joins the agency, and the business takes on the title “Bachino & Stockird Insurance Brokers, Successors to Ernest Vollmer.”
Stockird’s experienced underwriting skills enhance the agency’s technical expertise while Bachino’s outgoing personality leads to sales success.
While business is booming for the now well-established agency, all is far from well in the rest of the world. During the troubled years of World War II, the agency defines its identity as a reliable port in the storm.
In the throes of WWII, a few courageous citizens tend and protect the properties of Japanese Americans living in internment camps. Among those who stand up for their friends and neighbors include the families of Ernest Vollmer, Pete Bachino, and Les Stockird.
After the War, the focus of the agency turns inward to family. In 1948, Harry Morris moves his wife Anne and sons Greg and Michael to the Central Coast from San Francisco. The family quickly becomes an integral part of the community.
Morris, best known for his courtesy and integrity, earns ownership in the agency when Stockird retires.
In the late 1950s, Bachino’s son, Robert, joins the business after serving as an officer in the Navy and studying at Santa Clara University.
The 1960’s begin with tragedy. The agency is dedicated to supporting Cal Poly football and at the turn of the decade, an airplane carrying much of the local Mustang team crashes. Pete Bachino is among the lives lost. This heartbreak is a catalyst for change and evolution within the agency.
Harry Morris and Robert Bachino now partner with new contributors to the business, starting with Marvin Dee, a former Hartford claims adjuster. Great with people, he builds the business with drive and purpose.
In 1964, Greg Morris returns to SLO after graduating from Santa Clara University. This same year, the agency moves to the Sinsheimer Trust Building and becomes known as Morris & Dee Insurance.
By the early 1970s, Morris & Dee purchase land for new offices near the corner of Pacific and Santa Rosa Streets.
1975 welcomes Phil Chew and Gene Garritano to the agency, who in time are welcomed into ownership. Chew oversees inside operations, and Garritano, fresh from Hartford’s executive training program, tackles sales.
Dee retires in 1986 and Chew follows suit in 1989. The agency’s expanding staff soon outgrows their space on Pacific Street and moves into our current 21,000 square foot home at 1122 Laurel Lane under the name Morris & Garritano.
1994 brought the addition of another Morris to the company. Greg’s son, Brendan, comes on board after graduating from Santa Clara University with a degree in Finance. His focus specializes in bringing new clients onboard and continuing to build the strong business relationships that Morris & Garritano has become known for.
Soon after, Kerry Morris, Greg’s daughter and Brendan’s sister, joins the family company in 2002 after graduating from Santa Clara University and later takes on the role of COO.
With Brendan assuming the role of CEO in 2012, Greg Morris and Gene Garritano are able to take a step back from running the day-to-day operations to focus on their clients and their families.
By 2015, the company expands to more than 120 employees with the acquisition of two accomplished insurance agencies: Neal-Truesdale (2014) and Gray & Troy (2015) and gained another Principal when Dan Troy joined the agency. Together with Gene Garritano, Brendan Morris, and Kerry Morris, the Board of Directors work faithfully to propel the agency forward by focusing on the needs of their clients, the well-being of their employees, and the development of their community.
Over the next decade, Morris & Garritano continues to grow as a company and as a pillar in the community by supporting numerous organizations and serving on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce, French Hospital, Rotary, EVC, as well as several other associations throughout the Central Coast.
In February of 2016, the Morris & Garritano family is heartbroken by the passing of Greg Morris. As a man so involved in the community and so beloved by its people, his loss is felt throughout the San Luis Obispo area. Greg’s dedication and passion continue to resonate throughout the agency, driving the company to provide unparalleled service with integrity.
As a means to better serve the needs of their clients and to support the communities in which they live, Morris & Garritano opens its second location in Santa Maria, CA, in 2017.
In this time, the agency’s shareholder group expands to 16 individuals, including valued members of the Senior Leadership and Sales Teams who greatly contribute to Morris & Garritano’s vision and success.
The endurance of the COVID-19 pandemic brings about a permanent shift in the company’s already family-friendly workplace policies to support full-time remote or hybrid options for employees. Major innovations are acted upon to offer an environment that still supports company initiatives, fosters employee engagement, and maintains our signature level of personalized client services.
In this new era of work, we find a balance in managing the needs of our employees while maintaining pace in prioritizing the service of our clients. Twice a year, our agency makes a point to bring our entire workforce together for what we believe is essential interaction and reconnection together and in-person at our main office in San Luis Obispo.
Today, our agency houses more than 150 employees working in 18 different states with a growing territory of service. In early 2023, the opening of our third office location will be celebrated in Irvine, CA, as our advocates expand representation to the Orange County and Southern California regions.
We’re proud of our growth and all that we’ve achieved in our history. In this spirit, we continue to grow our knowledge base, creating new ideas and innovations that will allow us to remain a trusted advisor and neighbor for generations to come.