Our History



Supporting his widowed mother by selling newspapers for a nickel, Kemmons Wilson learned to appreciate the value of family and the importance of hard work.

Innovative and driven from the start, Kemmons Wilson’s initial business ventures ranged from selling popcorn outside the local movie theatre to selling pinball machines and Wurlitzer juke boxes. He soon discovered an interest in homebuilding and founded Kemmons Wilson Companies (KWC) in 1948 and became one of the premier builders in Memphis, TN.  This same passion and determination that drove him early on would later help him become a true pioneer in the hospitality industry.



The idea of Holiday Inn was born from a frustrated father on a family vacation.

In 1951, Kemmons’ wife, Dorothy, finally persuaded him to take a break so they packed up the children, all five of them, and headed to Washington, D.C. to visit the national landmarks. By the time they reached their destination, Kemmons had formulated an idea, born from the discomforts and frustrations of the quality and inconsistency provided by the roadside motels of his era. He came home determined to build a hotel brand where people would be treated like family with friendly, caring service in a comfortable, clean and welcoming environment, all at a fair price. Only a year later, in 1952, Holiday Inn was born in Memphis, Tennessee.



Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group opened its doors in Memphis alongside Holiday Inn insuring its first hotels.

In 1952, as Wilson found himself at the forefront of a hotel concept that would revolutionize the hospitality industry forever, Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group (KWIG) was born, and his hotel concept came to be known as Holiday Inn. By 1972, his vision of 400 hotels had been far exceeded with over 1,700 hotels worldwide. KWIG grew alongside Holiday Inn to serve, insure and specialize in the industry he knew so well.

Since then, Kemmons Wilson Insurance Group has grown to be a sizable employer in the insurance industry throughout the mid-South, and serves hundreds of clients across the nation.

Today, KWIG is a leading full-service personal and commercial property-casualty and employee benefits insurance brokerage. As one of the fastest growing insurance groups in the southeast, we have not forgotten our roots and continue to be an expert in the hospitality industry. However, we now have a significant presence in aviation, transportation, construction, non-profits, real estate, manufacturing, distribution and life sciences as well. By combining KWIG’s deep industry expertise with our belief in doing what’s right, we provide our clients with the best protection tailored to their specific needs, affording our clients more time to spend on what matters most.

Why not give us a call to find out how we can benefit you?

We create long-term, trusted relationships by being a knowledgeable and dependable partner.

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