It was traditional Polish family Christmas in 1975, cuddled up around the fire munching on chocolates, cookies, and red pistachios with my mother, my aunt, my cousins, and my grandparents. Grandpa Jarvis jostled the 10 of us when he called for “a family meeting”. Grandpa stated that he felt it was time that he begin his estate planning and his plan was to give the business to my uncle-in-law and his two grandsons. Much to Grandpa’s dismay they had no hesitation when it came to expressing their lack of interest in the family business or carrying on the legacy of a Jarvis. I had never seen the strong, slightly brash yet compassionate man show much emotion; I witnessed my grandfather cry for the very first time. I meekly asked, “Grandpa would you consider me as a candidate?” Unwavering he simply stated, “now little lady, if you want my business, you’ll have to buy it!”
In my early 20s I purchased C. Jarvis Insurance Agency Inc. from my grandparents, Charles and Eleanor Jarvis. Throughout high school and university I worked at the agency that was located in the heart of the Polish community in Cleveland, Ohio. Working for my grandfather was arduous, due to the fact that my family name was on the letterhead this meant that I had to work harder than the rest. After those very exhilarating yet trying summers I had determined that I owed it to my family to carry on the legacy that my immigrant grandparents had struggled to create.
The moment that my signature was at the bottom of all that letterhead I vowed that I would uphold the same ethos my grandfather, Charles C. Jarvis had when he founded the Agency in 1946:
- It’s always about the doing next best thing and the doing right by your clients, peers and friends.
- Hard work, dedication, integrity and loyalty are the cornerstones to business, relationships, and success.
- Charles was pro-active and a great listener. Many times people would come to him and say, “Charlie, I have a problem…” His
response was the same all the time, calm, collected and well rehearsed, “there are no problems; only solutions!” I too now have made it a motto…
As I reflect back, I see much of my grandfather in myself. I tend to be extremely hard on diamonds in the rough. If I do not ride you hard, stop you in your tracks and raise my voice I cannot find the potential you possess. There are many times I wish I could say, “Grandpa, you were right. I was foolish to have questioned you”. As for the cons of family business… There are none. If there were any negatives, they would pale in comparison to the pride I feel in carrying on my family’s legacy.
My grandparents truly cared for each and every customer, no matter how large or small. Through the efforts of my mother Patricia, my sister Sandy, and my daughter BrookeMarie, and the team at C. Jarvis Insurance we can continue with the same business philosophies. We came by it naturally, it is in our pedigree.