Bongiovanni celebrates 30 years in business
MERIDEN — It’s been 50 years since Terry Bongiovanni was a Chicago Cubs draft choice. Two years later he made the team’s 40-man roster, before injury ended his bid for a major league baseball career.
Bongiovanni spent many years in baseball before turning the second phase of his life — a family and business — into another success. Bongiovanni, who moved to Meriden at age 6, started Bongiovanni Insurance in 1987 at 97 E. Main St., a building he rented from local attorney Jack Shorr.
His wife Eileen Bongiovanni stayed home with the couple’s three children Nicole, Ty and Trey until the 1990s, when she taught gymnastics before joining her husband’s business.
Today, Bongiovanni Insurance has expanded to its second generation with Bongiovanni Insurance and Financial, and created BSP Insurance, a property and casualty specialty firm. The company and family celebrates its 30th year and looks forward to growing in an ever changing industry.
“We’re going forward with our two sons,” said Eileen Bongiovanni. “We are four equal partners. We’re going to step back and they make more decisions.”
Terry and Eileen had a strong handle on the life insurance business when Ty Bongiovanni joined in 2005. Ty Bongiovanni, a two-sport standout in his own right, had started a coaching career and his own family.
“Trey and I are lucky to be in that position and want to pass it down,” Ty Bongiovanni said.
Trey Bongiovanni joined the company at the start of the recession and the Affordable Care Act.
“We had to educate ourselves to help clients,” Trey Bongiovanni said. “It opened other avenues and opportunities.”
Some smaller businesses stopped offering health insurance to allow employees to join ACA exchanges. This created an opportunity for Bongiovanni to provide individual health insurance, offer life, auto, property insurance, and help customers manage financial investments. Their Sister, Nicole Grillo, helps develop some of the health and wellness programs for health insurance customers.
The family has also made solid contributions to the community. As longtime members of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, including Eileen Bongiovanni serving as an officer, they have helped build a network of clients.
The family is also involved in Meriden Kiwanis, and Rotary, local sports and have spearheaded projects to help the community. Last year, a project involving several community organizations raised funds to donate buddy benches to local schools to help combat bullying.
“The benches are there for when you feel like you need a friend,” Rotary Club President Ty Bongiovanni told students at a presentation ceremony. “It’ll always be there for you if you need it.”
Terry Bongiovanni was named a 2007 Sportsman of Distinction, and Eileen Bongiovanni was honored as the 2016 Strong, Smart and Bold Award recipient by Girls Inc. She is also a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.
“We believe in giving back, it’s helped us in our business as well,” said Ty Bongiovanni.
The Midstate Chamber of Commerce named the company a Small Business Leadership Award Winner in 2010.
“You got a second-generation business which is rarer nowadays,” said Sean Moore, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that they accomplished that and are such a good multi-generational team is a testament to the family and the business.”
Moore witnessed changes to the Bongiovanni business model over the years.
“With the ACA discussions, they were one of the first to understand what it means for their industry and for their clients,” Moore said.
“Between Rotary, Kiwanis, sports and quite honestly, this is all balanced between family. There is a lot going on there and I’ve never seen a more choreographed balance of business and life.”
Terry and Eileen Bongiovanni are content to start letting their sons make more decisions.
“My clients continue to have service from somebody they can trust,” Terry Bongiovanni said.
A 30th anniversary party and ribbon-cutting for their new partnership is open to chamber members, civic groups and clients at the business at 107 E. Main St. on Sept. 26.
By Mary Ellen Godin Record-Journal staff