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The Stuff You Can’t Learn In Business School

October 13, 2009
Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

I remember the moment that it became clear to me that I was now a business owner, rather than an employee. It was on a sunny afternoon in 1999 and my partners and I had just returned from making a six figure deal with one of our insurance carriers. The money was badly needed to open what would later become our Orange CT location. I spent the remainder of that day on my hands and knees scraping off the old paint behind the toilet in the men’s room in another office. That was an epiphany if there ever was one!

I was thinking about this story over this past weekend after having a long and enjoyable conversation with a gentleman by the name of Shawn Daigle. Shawn owns the locally famous Avon Old Farms Inn Restaurant http://avonoldfarmsinn.com/sitex/. He graduated from one of America’s finest business schools; I graduated from one of America’s least known ones! He bopped around Wall St for a spell, while at the same time I was learning the insurance business here in Connecticut. We found that we had much in common and that in both of our cases, little of what we had learned in school, or in corporate life, prepared us for the challenges of business ownership.

My business partner, Dennis Dressel, has reminded me since the beginning of our partnership that the money we spend in the business each day is our money! It is the major thing that separates us from those in the corporate world. A bad decision in the small business world just doesn’t mean the end of our job, but possibly the end of our business, our home, cars, and assets! The second thing that separates us is the diversity of challenges that we face. Big companies have human resource departments, organized job training programs, CFO’s, and legal and security departments. In Shawn’s and my case, we are all of the above and more! At some point we still have to have time to sell policies or in Shawn’s case, oversee a great meal.

I have stood out in the pouring cold rain, leaving my wife at the movie theater, while waiting for the police to show up for a building alarm. I have jumped out of bed at 3am for a client involved in a claim at a business. I have donned fire gear to enter into a fatal house fire after the death of a client. Shawn talks of nearly being hit on his motorcycle only to find out later that it was one of his best customers! Our business day never completely comes to an end.

What separates guys like Shawn and me from others, is that in order to be a business owner, it means being “all in.” Everything is on the line, no excuses. Our reputation, built up over many years, can be destroyed in one bad decision. It’s something to think about before choosing an independent agent over an “800” number company or a “chain” restaurant over Avon Old Farms. We are deeply invested in your satisfaction!

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

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