Longtime Employee Takes Over Agency
Genevieve Brough becomes the owner of Finck & Perras in 2015.
Longtime employee Genevieve Brough inks a deal, buys Finck & Perras Insurance of Easthampton & Florence
By CHRIS LINDAHL
Thursday, March 05, 2015
EASTHAMPTON — In a time where geckos and Flo sell insurance through television ads, Finck & Perras Insurance Agency’s new owner Genevieve L. Brough says her company offers something more personal.
With neighborhood offices in Florence and Easthampton, Brough says the business she bought last month, after working there for 20 years, offers something different.
In the Easthampton office at 6 Campus Lane, “you walk through the door and see Sally — or Michelle” in the Florence office at 63 Main St., she said Friday in an interview at the Easthampton location. Brough says the daily face-to-face interactions she and her staff have with their customers — neighbors and friends — is what selling insurance is all about.
Brough said unlike some other agencies or online insurance companies, Finck & Perras still take claims and cash payments in the office.
She says staff are willing — and happy — to sit with customers during what can be stressful claims filing.
Friday afternoon, for example, a customer stopped by the Campus Lane office to make a claim. She had no appointment, but when she asked to speak with her agent, receptionist Sally Casey was happy to help. “Sure, she’ll be right with you,” Casey pleasantly replied.
Brough bought the agency from founders Roger and Joanne Finck and Richard Perras in a deal that closed Jan. 1. The company’s 27 local employees — including her husband, Pat Brough, serve “well over” 10,000 customers, according to Brough.
Her business philosophy is one she learned years ago from Perras: the insurance business is “all about building relationships,” Brough said. “You want to be in front of the customer or on the phone with the customer as much as possible.”
Roger Finck and Perras retired in December, while Joanne Finck remained on as company vice president, running the Florence office.
Brough, 43, was born and raised in Easthampton, where she lives today on Briggs Street with her husband and their two children, Joe, 14, and Katie, 11.
After leaving the Valley to study at Simmons College in Boston she returned after graduation to take a job as a teller at Easthampton Savings Bank.
In 1994, she was hired by Perras at the former Gifford and Perras Agency on Campus Lane. Though she had no experience selling insurance, Brough took the job as a customer service representative, where discovered she loved the work.
“I couldn’t wait for the day that I would have files on my desk when I left the office,” she recalled of her start in the business.
Brough credits two longtime employees with teaching her the business “from the bottom up.” One of those women, Norma Gillett, still works at the agency as personal insurance line processor.
A few years after she was hired, Brough was promoted to office manager. She had no experience bookkeeping, but liked the idea of trying something new in the office.
“I’m slightly ambitious,” she said. “It’s hard for me to work without having a hand in everything.”
In 2001, Gifford and Perras merged with G.A. Finck & Son of Florence to become Finck & Perras. Three years after that, Brough became a partner.
Brough downplays her decision to buy the business, and declines to say how much she paid for it. She prefers to think of herself as part of a big team.
“I never believe an organization is about one person,” she said.
During the microbust that hit Mount Tom in October, Brough said her husband, Pat Brough, 44, was on the street with Pam Judd, a claims representative, reaching out to talk to homeowners who had been hit by the storm.
“They couldn’t believe that we were there,” Pat Brough said in an interview in the office Friday. He does marketing for the company and works in commercial insurance for the agency. From the front stoops of homes damaged by the storm, Brough and Judd initiated claims for customers who were too overwhelmed to even think about making a call.
Gen Brough believes that commitment to compassionate customer service is integral to her firm’s mission.
“It takes a certain kind of person to do customer service,” she said.
She said she is pleased with the staff, some of whom have worked for the company for 40 years. Out of the two dozen employees, she said, “there’s not one weak link.”
She credits them with the success of the business.
“I get to do what I do because of the people here,” she added.
Brough said she can’t imagine being in another field. She was always a numbers person, she said, so insurance was a natural fit. She says she also likes that she’s helping people in their time of need by protecting their assets.
Though as president Brough mostly deals with sales plans, budgets and big-picture matters, she said a large part of her job remains interacting with customers.
When they are old enough, Brough said she expects her children to work in the office — because that’s the kind of business she bought.
“I basically took over a family business,” she said. “I would love to see this continue as a family business with my kids.”
Chris Lindahl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.