Zelano Insurance Agency - A Strong Past, A Bright Future

Jan 14, 2019 | by Evan McMunn
  • Business Spotlight

For brothers Tony and Dave Zelano, insurance is the family business. Established over fifty years ago by their father, Richard Zelano, the team has built off the foundation he set for them, expanding from one location to four in just over seven years and becoming the largest Nationwide agency in Rhode Island.

A Family Business

Zelano Insurance’s roots date back to 1955, when Richard Zelano, a CPA, added Nationwide Insurance to his business model. During that time rates were good, and there was less competition. It was a smart business decision that led to the laying of the foundation of the thriving business that his two sons, Tony and Dave run today. 

“I remember having conversations with Dad when I was in high school about taking over the insurance side of things,” says Tony when asked how he decided to join the family business. “It made sense, and as soon as I graduated college, I jumped right in, learning firsthand about sales and customer service.”

By the time Tony’s brother, Dave, joined the family business, the insurance industry was rapidly changing, with higher rates and competition from internet sales of insurance. Richard continued to run the CPA portion of the company, along with day-to-day operations while his two sons concentrated on growing the business through sales.

Building a Foundation of Trust

When you meet Tony, it’s easy to see why he’s been so successful at the sales part of the business. For him, it’s more than just selling insurance – it’s about building lasting relationships with clients, and that’s what makes him and his team different than the large internet based companies that are their competitors.

“We take the time to look at our client’s holistic needs. We want to build a foundation so as their needs change; we’re there for them and able to provide them with what they need at the best rates possible.”

Over the last five decades, the Zelano’s have built a foundation of trust with the Rhode Island community as the insurance agency that’s ‘always there for you.’ When asked how they did it, Tony says, “Dad always taught us that if you work hard, everything will come.”

Looking Towards the Future

Along with hard work, Tony gives this advice to other business owners, “Live for tomorrow, not today.” 

When Richard decided that his tomorrow would be retirement, he handed his business over to his sons, which transformed their roles. The brothers had both concentrated on sales, while their father ran the accounting and business end of operations.

“Dave shifted into management and operations. It’s great,” says Tony about the changes. “He’s very methodical and analytical, where with sales, I’m constantly the one who says ‘yes’ – Dave makes sure to balance me out.”

Together, the brothers knew they wanted the business to grow. The team expanded through the acquisition of existing Nationwide offices throughout Rhode Island, going from five employees to nearly twenty with four locations.

“Dad had an existing relationship with Ken Martin [Chief Commercial Lending Officer] at Savings Institute. When we needed funding to acquire the new Cumberland location, the bank made it easy,” Tony explains his experience with Savings Institute Bank & Trust. “I didn’t need to invest a ton of my time into the transaction. The bank streamlined the process and made it easy for us.”

Zelano Insurance Agency
Anthony Zelano with Ken Martin and David Caruso of Savings Institute Bank & Trust.

Savings Institute Bank & Trust is proud to have helped Zelano’s Insurance Agency continue to build lasting relationships with their clients in new markets. Just as the family strives to meet their client’s needs now and in the future, the bank does the same. To learn more about how we can help your business thrive, please give us a call, or visit one of our conveniently located branches.