Galvin Insurance Agency welcomes 4th generationBy Mary Ann Price
When Matt Galvin, 26, joined the Joseph D. Galvin Insurance Agency last April, he started more than just a new job. He became the first member of the fourth generation of his family to work in the family business.
Joe D., as his descendants call him, grew up in Ireland. He started the Joseph D. Galvin Real Estate and Insurance Agency in 1925 in his home on Norfolk Street. Joe D. had two sons, John B. and Michael, who went to work for their father as he moved the family and the business to different locations.
“He went down Washington Street,” said Joseph B. Galvin, one of John’s sons and the current president of the agency. Joe D. next set up his office above Jim’s Variety, across from what is now the Walgreen’s Plaza. He later moved a few blocks down to the other side of Washington, across from St. John the Evangelist Church. Hughes Pro Skate moved into that location when Joe D. moved the business to its present location at 1209 Washington Street, which was the home of another family member, who was a doctor.
“He was a big person and loved to have fun,” Joe B. said of his grandfather. “He was mostly a real estate agent. He sold many people in Canton their first home.” He was active in town, serving on the Board of Assessors for over 30 years and working with a group of people to start the Wampatuck Country Club.
John B. Galvin worked in the office across from St. John’s, where Joe B. and his brother, Canton assessor and state Representative William C. Galvin, attended school. As boys, Joe and Bill used to drop in to their father’s office after school to say hello and head to a variety store called Jack and Paul’s to get a snack.
“My father was more interested in insurance,” said Joe. “The real estate got phased out as the insurance business grew,” added Bill.
Joe joined the agency in 1972 and Bill followed in 1975. “It is a family business,” Joe said. “We’ve always been very active in Canton. It’s a lot of fun. Grandfather, father, grandson — you cross a lot of generations.”
They have good memories of working with their father. “He had a larger-than-life personality,” Bill said. He described how John B. used to go out for meetings with clients and come back with notes on a napkin and tell his sons to write up the proposal.
The brothers said that working together for many years has its pros and cons, but the positives outweigh the negatives. “It’s given me the ability to do other things,” said Bill. “I’m in politics. I wouldn’t be able to do both jobs if it wasn’t for Joe.”
“I think it’s fun,” Joe said of working with family. “I enjoy it. We bounce things off of each other all the time.”
Matt Galvin worked for Commerce Insurance before joining the agency. Joe is his father and Bill is his uncle. “They are two people that I trust and I’m learning a lot,” he said. “I don’t want to let them down.”
“We’re very happy he’s aboard,” said his father. “He’s doing fine.”
The office staff includes two customer service representatives. Mary Jane Odell has held the position for 35 years, and Joe’s sister-in-law Janice Donovan has worked at the agency for 30 years.
The Galvins said they have seen the insurance business change over the years, a great deal of which is due to technology. For example, many clients use the agency’s website to request a quote, resulting in less initial face-to-face contact. The agency works hard to choose companies for their clients that have the same claim philosophy that they do. Most of their business comes from referrals from their current clients. The agency provides automobile, homeowners, personal and commercial property insurance.
The Galvin Insurance Agency supports a number of local organizations in Canton, including Canton Youth Hockey, the Canton high school yearbook, the Canton Choral Society, and local sports teams.
Matt’s decision to join the agency came about after a conversation with his father. “It’s been such a good family business,” he said. “It’s treated my family well. I would love to try to take it over one day.”
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