School Chums Carry On Family Insurance Business
Jeremy Wideman (left) and Scott Alsop are partners in Alsop Insurance Brokers, which can trace its beginnings back to 1945.
By Kinjal Dagli-Shah, Stouffville Free Press
Two long-time Stouffville residents continue to carry on an insurance business founded by one of their grandfathers over 70 years ago.
Scott Alsop and Jeremy Wideman are partners in Alsop Insurance Brokers, which was initially run out of the Stouffville home of Scott’s grandfather Fred Alsop when he established the enterprise in 1945.
“My grandfather worked as an insurance broker, supplementing his income driving a taxi,” said Scott. “As the business grew, he discontinued the taxi service and focused solely on insurance. In 1954, he constructed the current office on Main Street and moved the business out of his home.”
The brokerage has been in the same location ever since. In 1964, Fred’s son Dennis entered the business and eventually took over the day-to-day operations from his father. Scott and Jeremy joined him as equal partners in 2002 until Dennis retired in 2014.
Scott speaks of tales he has heard from old clients about his grandfather’s impressive work ethic. “One client in particular remembers how Fred would go into farm fields to convince clients to sign up for insurance. He wasn’t just staying inside the office but approaching different people to grow his business,” recalled Scott.
Scott decided to join his dad in the business after graduating with a business degree from Wilfred Laurier University. Jeremy joined a few years later. Jeremy’s mother Francie worked at Alsop Insurance for some years and was still at her job when he joined as a partner. “My mother was in nursing and didn’t like her shift work. We knew the Alsops from church so Dennis offered her a job,” explained Jeremy. “I went to college for a marketing degree and bounced around getting experience with different brokers. When Scott’s father wanted to pull back, he knew I was in the industry and approached me with the idea of the three of us becoming equal partners.”
Jeremy jokes about the time his mother and he were working in the same office. “She had already been working here a long time when I joined. Funnily enough, I came in as her boss. During business I was the boss but at home she would call the shots,” said Jeremy, a father of two. “We’ve had a great relationship all along. Besides, the business was already running like a well-oiled machine so there was no friction.”
Scott and Jeremy both attended Stouffville District Secondary School as well as the Stouffville Christian School. The camaraderie between the two is palpable in their conversations. “We weren’t in class together but our friendship was cemented through church activities. We also hung out with the same group of people, and played hockey as well as other sports together,” said Jeremy.
The partners are taking the changing face of Stouffville into account as their business moves forward. “Stouffville has changed a lot and grown at an incredible pace,” said Scott. “There’s quite a bit more competition, we’ve gone from typewriters to computers and we’re seeing different nationalities. The local demographic has changed and we handle things accordingly.”
However, the duo still service clients whose insurance policies were first written up by Fred. “A referral is the best thing in this industry. It’s worth its weight in gold,” Jeremy concluded.