For over three decades, Glenn K. Tippy and his hardworking staff at GBW Insurance (short for Gerrity, Baker, Williams, Inc.) have strived to protect homes, businesses, automobiles, and even people themselves through quality insurance plans. We caught up with Mr. Tippy to discuss his personal experiences — both good and bad — in operating a small business.
What’s it like running a smaller, local business compared to, say, some kind of larger corporate entity?
I had spent much of my career running parts of large insurance companies or all of a midsize insurance company. Owning a local or regional business, where you could see the results of working with people, where you would know how the work actually helped people, turned out to be much more important. In a large corporation, there are layers and layers of helpers. In a small business, if the toilet breaks down, either the money to fix it comes out of your pocket or your fix it yourself; either way, you have to have a restroom for the employees. So you learn to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Could you describe the best day you’ve ever had as a business owner?
One of the days after Hurricane Sandy passed away. When I started answering client phone calls at 4 a.m. because our communication plan worked. When our insurance company partners were able to start taking claims because their disaster plans worked. When our staff members showed up, when they had no power or heat but they wanted to help our clients. When one of our employees slept in her car because she wasn’t sure she had enough gas to get back and forth from home to office, but didn’t tell me because she didn’t want me to order her to stay home — everyone was being paid whether they showed up or not. Our systems worked, and things got better every day for our staff and for our clients.
That’s an incredible story! What would you say to aspiring business owners who want to have those same kinds of experiences?
Do you have a burning desire to do this? Don’t go if you just think it would be nice to be your own boss. Are you willing to keep going if it takes twice as much work as you expect. Don’t go if you can’t keep going when things are tough. If you can do things better than others and know why someone will pay for that, if you can take bad news but planned for it or are tough enough to fight through, then your own business can make you happier and wealthier than laboring in someone else’s business.
GBW Insurance is located at 3 Goldmine Road in Flanders, N.J. You can learn more about their services at www.GBWinsurance.com, by emailing info@GBWmail.com or by calling (973)426-1500.
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