When Painesville, Ohio agent, Robert Rossley, goes full time on January 1, 1985, it will be yet another chapter in the Pollutro Agency story.
Bob has been a Motorists agent since 1971 but really became active in 1981 when father-in-law, Fred Pollutro, retired from the insurance business. At that time, Fred sold most of his agency to his son, Fred, Jr. and the rest to his daughter, Dolores (Bob's wife) and ended an insurance career that began in 1951.
Not that Fred ever started out to be an agent. After graduating from high school, he left north central Pennsylvania where he was earning $5.00 a week and headed to the coal fields of West Virginia. "Dad was a railroader and got me a B&O pass," recalled Fred. "I went as far as it could carry me, which was Wheeling and i found a job in a deep mine down near the Virginia border." That was in 1935. Two years later he quit and went home only to return once again to West Virginia a short time later. This time he had to pay $20.00 for a job which he held for five years. (Fred tells about working at that time with bth the great grandfather and grandfather of 1984 Summer Olympic sensation, Mary Lou Retton.
In 1942, Fred went north to Painesville take with him (although he wasn't yet aware of it) a souvenir of mines - black lung. It was this affliction and the urging of the late Russell Licklider that lead to his becoming a Motorists agent in 1951.
At first, Fred resisted the idea of selling insurance, protesting that he had not even been able to sell seeds when he was in school. But Russ was persistent and Fred looks back now with gratitude that Russ and to then district sales manager, Bob Cowan, who "got me moving."
"I didn't want to disappoint Bob" he confided, " so I always scrambled to write something, even if it was only a $10 protector accident policy."
I soon found myself running neck and neck with agents Bill Loar (Columbus) and Lee Conn (Canton) for the most consecutive weeks on the production sheet. After 15 years, I missed a week when my production arrived at the home office just a short time after the deadline. "In those days, I would take my production to the railroad station each Wednesday evening before 7:00 p.m. and it was in Columbus the next morning" All told, Fred missed only that one production sheet in the 22 years prior to phasing out of the company's "Fifty Club" in 1973.
Carmela Pollutro, Fred's wife, credits two Dale Carnegie courses with playing a large part in his success as an agent, " Fred was fearful of selling when he first started," she disclosed. " One day I saw a Dale Carnegie ad in the local paper and I was able to convince him that we could afford to take the course, and both of us did. Later, Fred also took the sales course and I believe these helped him more than anything else he did."
Fred continued to work at a local plant during his first five years in the insurance business and "Cam" ran the agency during the day. Every evening he was out making calls and providing service, usually until 11," Cam reported. The agency experience steady growth during teh ensuing years as Fred devoted his full time to the business. He gave his clients what they wanted most - quality service and protection. In 1976, Fred recalled everything seemed to start coming apart at the seams. Diamond Shamrock, Painesville's largest employer, closed it's doors casting an economic pall over the community. At the same time, Motorists raised their rates, and four companies new to the area began writing property and casualty business in Painesville.
Carmela and Fred
"Most of those agents were friends of mine" said Fred. "In fact, I helped licensed one of them. They knew everyone I knew so they just moved in on me. People were looking for jobs, other companies had lower rates and I lost a lot of business. We pulled 400 files at that time. I don't blame those who left. They were panicky and just trying to get by. But my agency was hurt the most because all of my business was in Painesville."
That was when Fred, Jr. came into the agency. He had just graduated from the University of Dayton and had decided that the insurance business was where his future lay. " I had never discussed it with my dad" he said. "I just weighed my options and decided for myself. However, it wasn't a very auspicious time to enter the business."
But the Pollutro Agency survived this temporary setback and resumed its orderly growth and in 1981, Fred, Sr. retired. Since then, the Pollutro and Rossley Agencies have operated out of the same attractive office in the city's downtown area. Fred, Jr. reported that the agency is now adding commercial accounts, where before it had always been heavy in personal lines. In addition, his life production has qualified him for the last two Millionaires Conferences. The Rossley Agency is set for the increased growth that is expected when Bob is able to devote all of his energies to the business.
"Our staff secretary is my mother's sister, Rose Cassetta," Fred, Jr. pointed out. So anyone calling either agency is going to be talking to someone in the family."
And Fred, Sr.? He's keeping busy playing golf when he gets the chance (and weather permits) and maintaining five rental properties. He remains active in the Exchange Club where he has been a longtime member. He works in the agencies occasionally and goes out to inspect, measure and photograph dwelling risks. He already feels he has fallen behind in at least one area of the business "under writing has changed so much, even in just three years.
"But things have worked out well, " he said. "My fears back in 1976 were never realized. Most of those lost policyholders came back; they found out that lower rates weren't everything. Our agencies are doing well and Fred, Jr. , Bob and Dolores have everything under control. Those other agents? There not around today. Oh, the companies are still here but that doesn't worry us.
" We are here and those other agents are gone, every one of them!"
Fred, Jr., Fred, Sr., and Dolores