Welcome to History.

portland river boat

In the last century, the world has seen eras of peace and times of turmoil, national triumphs and international disasters.

Whether the waters have been calm or choppy, Durham & Bates has always been prepared for what’s here, and for what’s coming. We still are.

Our history speaks of steady hands and sound decisions.

Our founder, M.C. Harrison, was an insurance agent from New England. Like many from his era, he looked west and saw his future. In the early 1900s, he started an insurance agency in Portland, Oregon, then relocated to San Francisco. There, he turned his business over to his nephew, C.P. Sargent. Soon, Sargent brought in another family member, Gilbert H. Durham. Extending beyond the family, Durham hired Donald H. Bates, who’d been working in the marine industry. Bates left the Bay Area and came to Portland to open a satellite office for the young agency. Soon, Bates became a partner, and the name Durham & Bates became the firm’s official mark.

Anchored in our history. Focused on your future.

Much has changed in the last century.

Transport that once took days or weeks now happens in a few hours. International business takes place via live video stream. Cloud-based communication has created an entirely new tempo to the business world. Durham & Bates has changed at every step, yet still holds true to our historical principles. We’ve grown our portfolio and capabilities to partner with middle market companies with major national and international reach, across dozens of industries and specialties. We’ve also expanded our use of technology to take advantage of next-gen tools that help speed up the way we communicate and collaborate with clients. From our beginning in the marine industry, through the present and beyond, we solve challenges and create value for commercial clients, non-profit organizations, and individuals, by focusing on the following:

  • Building connections: We create and nurture strong, mutually supportive professional relationships.
  • Combining tact with tenacity: We leverage deep knowledge, experience, and sound judgment in all that we do.
  • Working with integrity: We adhere to moral and ethical principles at every turn.

Today, our history continues to point the way forward. The foundational aspects of who we are and how we work — partnering, collaborating, and growing smartly — have produced a level of extreme financial stability. We are prepared to withstand and thrive in good times, or during financial downturns.

Learn how our history is very much alive in how we do business today.

Our history continues to point the way forward.

The foundational aspects of our history—partnering, collaborating, and growing smartly—have produced a level of extreme financial stability. Our firm is prepared to withstand and thrive in good times, as well as during financial downturns. During the downturn of 2008/09, for instance, Durham & Bates grew in revenue and profit.

Our leadership steers Durham & Bates through today and tomorrow. Learn how.