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“The Wreck,” An Early Lesson

September 14, 2010

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Growing up in what today would be described as a lower middle class family, we were taught from a very young age the value of working hard. Soon after the age of twelve, I began cutting lawns, shoveling snow and delivering papers. I had an understanding of the value of a dollar early in life.

Occasionally, I would spend those hard earned dollars at Angie’s Pizzeria. Connecticut is littered with some of America’s best pizza shops and Angie’s was certainly part of that group. Once I had saved enough for a small pizza, I would ride my bike to Angie’s with great anticipation. Angie’s had this incredible sauce and the best cheeses and a crust that was to die for! The aroma of Angie’s was something that I will never forget. It was simply wonderful. Each bite made every heavy shovel of snow worth the effort. For me, at the age of fourteen, Angie’s also had something special, Angie’s two beautiful teenage daughters that worked in the shop!

My father enjoyed Angie’s pizza as well, but he had his own favorites. He and I would debate the merits of our favorite places. My heart was dedicated to Angie’s, that is, until one summer afternoon. I was riding my bike to the pizza shop which was located on the corner of a busy intersection. I approached the intersection on my bicycle just as there was a chilling screech of tires, followed by a metal crushing smash! I dropped my bike and along with other motorists that had seen the crash, I ran to the car that had the most damage. Inside, behind the wheel was a young woman that was clearly pregnant. She was screaming for someone to call an ambulance. Remember, in the mid nineteen seventies, there were no cell phones. I turned from the scene and ran into Angie’s to use the phone. The owner was standing behind the counter as I assumed that he had come out from the kitchen to see what all the commotion was about. My voice cracked two octaves higher than normal, that there were injuries and that an ambulance was needed. He looked at me from across the counter and said, “don’t worry, someone else will call, we have to keep our phone line open for customers calling in orders.” I was stunned! There were several other businesses located at that intersection and someone did call the police. I ran back to the wreck as police, fire and paramedics quickly arrived. The woman, now calm, was safely taken from car and to the hospital. I never found out the final outcome, but my belief is that she was more frightened than hurt.

From that day forward, my love affair with Angie’s was over. My beloved pizza shop, the smells, the daughters, all meant nothing. In my adolescent mind, I knew I could never set foot in that place again. When friends asked me to go for a pizza, I always made up an excuse or offered to go somewhere else. I told several people what had happened in an effort to keep them from Angie’s. Several years later, I went off to college and the shop went off into the sunset. The lesson was not lost on me. I understood that a small local business can do everything right for a long time. All the while building a stellar reputation and in a moment’s notice, what was once worked so hard for can be lost forever.

Big box stores, large fast food chains, or big insurance companies all have large marketing budgets that can help them spin out of a bad PR moment. An angry customer or two doesn’t affect their overall reputation. Small business owners are a different breed. We build our reputations one customer at a time. It is something to think about when you buy a product that often protects everything that you have ever worked for. We are the “Trusted Choice” because we both have a lot to lose.

Have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 14, 2010 8:27 am

    Nice writing style. I look forward to reading more in the future.

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