PLEASANTVILLE — When the founder and owner of Ernie Johnson Insurance passed away in the fall of 2016, many who knew him paused to reflect on the life of a man who served his community and his customers through his life and career.
When our lives come to an end it is hoped that the impressions we left behind are felt beyond the span of our lifetime. That is the way Ernie Johnson wanted it to be.
The life and legacy of Ernie Johnson and the insurance company that bears his name continue to thrive based on the life and business lessons that Johnson passed on to his two children who helped him in the insurance business for more than a dozen years. The paths that co-owners Yanique London and Troy Williams took to be part of the insurance business were different but, thanks to their father, their focus on the importance of customer service and serving their community could not be more alike.
Both London and Williams remember the exact moment Johnson decided to start his own insurance company.
“While we were both young people at the time, we knew from that moment on that running a business was not easy,” London said.
Williams added, “Our father would enlist us to help fold flyers and pass them out.”
Johnson always preferred to deal with people face to face, which is what he did in his original storefront on Main Street in Pleasantville.
After London graduated from Atlantic City High School, she entered the world of insurance, but not working for her father. She worked for Prudential Insurance in Linwood as many young graduates did at the time. From there she transitioned to Aetna once the local corporate office of Prudential closed.
Williams went to a vo-tech after graduating from Egg Harbor Township High School and studied word processing and computers. He venture out and was employed by a number of local businesses. Through a series of events that the children now smile and laugh about, both Williams and London found themselves working with their father at the agency.
“He had a way about him that always made you feel good after talking with him,” London said.
Williams agreed and said that was one of the things his father instilled in them from the beginning.
Johnson was the rock of the family and a true champion of his children and grandchildren. He supported community activities and events, and that is another area his children and the insurance agency continue to do.
Some other important life and business lessons London and Williams said their father passed to them: the ability to deal with people and most importantly to remain calm; to assist people by taking control of situations that can sometimes be their most difficult times and help them through them.
The face-to-face original vision for the business created by Johnson is still practiced by London and Williams. Another lesson Johnson taught his children was, in business, you need to speak with the customer in terms they can understand. This is especially true when it comes to areas of insurance policies that can be quite complicated.
“This attention to personalized service is exactly the way our father wanted the business to be,” Williams said.
He added, “Our father wanted us both to be successful but to also be humble.”
Although the business moved a number of years ago to its location at 714 N. New Road, it continues to serve new and existing customers. The work ethic and connection to the community have not changed. This includes customers Johnson served when he originally opened his doors. The lessons and legacy of the company’s founder are alive and well and that is exactly how Ernie Johnson would have wanted it to be.