Back on October 20th of this year, we were blessed to have a ribbon cutting by the local Chamber of Commerce in recognition of our 35 years of being in business in our great community of Abilene, Texas. I often marvel at how an insurance business that started out in the living room of my parents home by a guy with a 10th grade education could grow to what it is today. It is only by the grace of God that this could happen. I have been here for 31 of those years and am fortunate to have had a father to guide me and “teach me the ropes” as the old saying goes. The third generation of Rhodes entered the insurance business with the addition of Gary II in August 2018. It doesn’t matter what kind of business or industry you belong to – we all need customers in order to be successful. Our customers literally write our paychecks. We are fortunate to have a fair amount of loyal customers who have been with us for most of those 35 years so we invited them and turned the event into a great big party!
In addition to an extremely loyal clientele, over the years we have had many dedicated employees who have delivered the kind of attention and service that it takes to provide superior service to our customers. I made it a point to invite an employee who had been with us in the early years as a special guest (I attend church with here so it was not hard to find her!). Bill Rhodes, the founder of the agency has been gone 12 years and his first employee (Dorothy “Dot” Caffey) has been gone for 2 years, but we had large framed pictures of them on display so that our longtime patrons could see their bright smiles. It was great to reminisce with them.
My beloved father may have had a limited education but God blessed him with many virtues which he used to make him into the man he was and thus, a successful entrepreneur: he had a sincere love for people that you could feel when you were in his presence – he always made you feel like you were the most important person in his life; he was a phenomenal listener (which is almost a prerequisite for the afore-mentioned quality); he had an incredible amount of tenacity – when out prospecting for business, he realized a “no” today did not mean a “no” tomorrow. An illustration of this as told by my mother is dad approached a business once and was basically thrown out by the owner and told that he hated insurance companies and insurance people. My father smiled at him with his gap-toothed smile and told him that he understood and that if he ever changed his mind, please give him a call and proceeded to give him a business card. Within 24 months, the man that had asked him in a not very polite manner to vacate his presence became a client; my father was raised in a household without a father figure and so he made it a point to be the best doggone father to his three boys so that his sons would not have to learn from the streets what should be taught at home. He became a Roman Catholic in 1967 and learned to love the Lord with all of his heart. When he started the business in 1986, he told my mother that he was going to start his agency and make Jesus Christ his partner and consult him in all his decisions – that is a partnership that rarely (if ever) backfires! As his oldest son, I continue that tradition and always will until I draw my last breath. I figure I owe that to both of my fathers – the God in heaven that created me and the one that God gave me to form, love, and guide me and my two brothers.
I tell the above story in case there is someone out there who may be considering a career change, have been laid off due to the economy, or starting up a new business. These are scary scenarios and these can certainly be scary times we are going through. Great things can happen through preparation, faith, hard work, and tenacity. The bolded word may be the most important word in the sentence. Thank you for taking the time to read our first blog!