Fresh out of college, Bob Gallery was only going to work with his brother Rick in the insurance business for a little while, just until a job in law enforcement came through.
That was until he found out that he loved the insurance business as much as his older brother did.
This September, the two brothers, who were raised in Milton, will celebrate 26 years together running the Atlantic Insurance Agency Group Company Inc., which they founded in 1993.
Since business and adapting often go hand in hand, they are preparing to move the business, long a fixture at 524 Adams St., in East Milton Square, about a quarter mile down the road to 245 Willard St. in Quincy.
“It’s not ending; it’s just moving,” said Rick, adding that the move to Quincy was a tough one.
The brothers grew up in Milton and even though they both live in Canton, they still consider themselves to be “Milton guys.”
“We could have moved within Milton and still be further away from here,” Rick said.
The Adams Street office building where the brothers have rented the first floor for all these years is slated for reconstruction.
Although Bob Falconi, who bought the building in 2017, worked to find them a temporary location, the thought of making two moves in a short amount of time was not feasible, the brothers said, so the hunt for a new location with about 1,500 square feet of office space began.
After an exhaustive search in Milton, Rick said they came to the conclusion that “there wasn’t anything else out there that fit.”
Rick said that he and Falconi are leaving on “great terms” since they understand that as a developer, Falconi is “doing what he does best” by redeveloping the property.
Falconi said he worked with the brothers to get them to stay but understands that the cost of moving twice can be difficult.
Sitting in the office at the Adams Street location where piles of moving boxes were carefully stacked in a nearby room, the brothers fought off a bit of nostalgia as they prepared for the move at the end of the month.
“This is where we really started,” Rick said.
The building, which dates back to about 1920, has housed a grocery store, a bank (it has two vaults), and a florist.
“I’d love to stay here,” Rick said, where the Atlantic Insurance sign on the busy street is as good as “having an advertisement in the paper.”
The company, which also has an office in Canton, provides auto, home, business, and life insurance.
“After 26 years, I think we can move a quarter of a mile away and still be OK,” Rick said. “Change is not bad. We will embrace it.”
The change will give the brothers a chance to “get rid of some of the cobwebs. It’s a new start,” he said.
While Rick points out that the new location next to Home Depot “doesn’t have a Milton address,” he and his brother have no intention of losing touch with Milton.
Picking up an envelope on his desk addressed to a local charity, Bob said the company has had a longstanding policy of giving back to the community.
“We try to give to everybody. We don’t give a huge amount,” Bob said.
The new location has ample parking and the move will still allow Bob to make his daily early morning stop to visit his father, Richard “Dick” Gallery. Every morning at about 7 a.m., Bob stops by his father’s Quincy apartment with a cup of coffee. Dick is in the Milton High School Hall of Fame and he coached little league for about 30 years with his brother Dave, a local dentist. They have three sisters who are not part of the business.
Rick, who always had an entrepreneurial streak and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said he always knew he wanted to work for himself and have the autonomy that comes with it.
“It is easier said than done,” he said.
Bob said one of the attractions for him was to be able to run the business as brothers. He had graduated from Stonehill College with a degree in criminal justice and was on his way to becoming a federal agent before a federal job freeze hit.
Working with his brother got him “hooked” on the business, he said.
Both brothers said a natural division of labor arose and Rick said, “We’ve never had a fight in all these years,”
Bob joked, “It’s not over yet.”
Finances were tight in the early years of building the business, and Bob calls it the days of mayonnaise sandwiches “because we couldn’t afford the meat.”
Their mother, who died in 2006, used to come down and bring lunch to them on occasion and their father would bring them surplus pads of paper from his job at Boston Edison.
The two brothers often held second jobs, parking cars at Jimmy’s Harborside and the World Trade Center or working security at Fenway Park, to pay for basics like filing cabinets.
“It seems like so long ago because it was,” jokes Rick.
The pair also survived the major deregulation of the auto insurance business in 2007, largely because “people still like to go to people they know,” said Bob.
Rick agreed, “We were ready for the changes. We were already aggressively trying to help people by getting good quotes.”
“If somebody has a claim, it’s our opportunity to step up and show them they’ve made the right decision. We know all our clients,” Rick said.
Bob said the first client he signed on, a woman he went to college with, is still a customer.
Technology and electronic communications has become a key part of serving customers. Bob does a company blog and the company makes sure to keep on the cutting edge of technology.
Several of the business’s eight employees have been with them for about 20 years, and have been a key to its success.
Bob, who has a black belt in karate, also operated a martial arts business for several years next to the company’s Canton office. He gave it up when he wanted to coach his own kids in little league and football. Bob is married to the former Michelle O’Toole, who won accolades for being part of the Milton High School basketball team that won the state title in 1990. He has a son, Robbie, age 18, and twin daughters Sydney and Fay, who started on the Canton High School varsity basketball team as a freshman last year.
Rick’s wife Christine is a senior vice president at Emerson Hospital in Concord. They have two sons – Aidan, who will start at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester this fall, and Ethan, 16, who attends Catholic Memorial in West Roxbury.