Customer service runs in this Fitzwilliam family
FITZWILLIAM — When Charlie Massin was 7 years old, his father came home with a cardboard box that would have a profound effect on his life.
The box contained about 100 policies from an insurance agency his father just purchased, most of them for family farms that stretched from Amherst to Hollis.
"I remember being on the couch when he came home that day for some weird reason," Massin said.
Fifty years later Charlie Massin carries on what his father, Frank, and mother, Liz, started with the Frank Massin Agency in their Fitzwilliam home.
Though both his parents have died, he remembers them fondly and their love for the insurance business, which to them was about helping people.
"They loved it because back in the day it wasn't just about money. Everything was so different. It was a completely different world than we live in now with the Internet," Massin said. "Back then there were small agents all over the place. … Companies were different and they were there for you anytime you needed them Saturday or Sunday."
The farm policies that founded the business are long gone, but Massin still writes policies for farms, and has seen a resurgence in local farms and Community Supported Agriculture in recent years.
Massin also writes policies for construction companies, retail businesses, factories and dozens of other industries as well as auto and home owner insurance.
When Frank Massin acquired the business he had been working for Peerless Insurance in Keene, and his wife, Liz, was a real estate agent with Walter Peterson at Petersons Real Estate in Peterborough.
In the early days of their new business, Frank and Liz moved the files from the cardboard box to a wood file cabinet tucked in the corner of their kitchen. Their only other office equipment was a manual typewriter and a black rotary phone.
In 1968, the Massins bought the Fortin Agency in Greenville and kept the name. In 2010, Charlie Massin moved the Fortin Agency to New Ipswich to provide more convenient service to his many New Hampshire and Massachusetts clients who still prefer to do business face-to-face and many still pay their premiums in person.
Customer service was always a priority to Frank and Liz. Frank even took French lessons to better serve the French community living in Greenville.
"His French was never very good, but he could talk the basics of insurance with his customers, and they appreciated that," Massin said.
Massin attended the University of New Hampshire, but always knew his father expected him to take over the business one day.
"I think my dad pretty much instilled that fact that this is what I'm going to do so, for good or for bad, here I am," Massin said.
Over the years the original 100 clients have grown to more than 2,000 today.
The manual typewriter has long since been replaced with computers, but the one-on-one service is still there, Massin said.
"That's what we're about. You call us, and we help you get what's right for you," Massin said.