The Westford Common is constantly buzzing with
residents enjoying annual festivals, concerts and parades. Quite the
bustling community center dotted with essential buildings, including the
former post office (now Northern Bank’s local branch), town hall and
police station. One cannot make a visit to the Common without seeing a
main fixture of this area, a charming yellow Victorian that once housed
the J.M. Fletcher general store, circa 1855. Here residents could go for
necessities such as coffee grounds, flour, sugar and of course a
wardrobe staple, overalls.
The store was in operation until the late 1950’s. In 1964, the Edward
M. Connolly Insurance Agency, a family-owned business, moved in. Ed
Connolly Jr. took over the business in 1986, after his father’s sudden
passing, and in 1997 he purchased and renovated the building to make it
their place of business and family home. This year marks a major
milestone for Connolly Insurance. They have been providing insurance to
the residents of Westford and surrounding communities for 60 years!
Unfortunately, just like the town’s beloved Apple Blossom Parade,
celebrations for the company’s anniversary have been postponed. But Ed
believes that soon we will come out of all this stronger than ever, and
ready to enjoy all the events this tight-knit community has to offer.
Deemed an essential business, Connolly Insurance has continued to
work throughout these unprecedented times. The team consists of Ed, his
three full-time employees, and his wife, Gail, who handles all the
behind the scenes work. “She could run a small country” Ed relays with
so much appreciation. Of course, keeping the doors open and their
services available to the community, did require some creative workflow
adjustments. “People are still buying cars or in the process of buying
homes, they need insurance,” he told Northern.
The top priority for Ed and Gail is that their employees and family
feel safe and comfortable as they are all under one roof. Therefore,
they put in place critical safety precautions, such as only one customer
can be in the office at a time, as well as reconfiguring desk setups
and utilizing painter’s tape to mark eight feet of separation from each
employee. If a customer does need to come into the office, they are
asked to wear a mask as well as use a new pen and take it with them.
Connolly Insurance has really been promoting the use of their curbside
drop box to allow for contactless transactions. Also, a considerable
amount of time is spent throughout the day meticulously sanitizing all
office equipment, doorknobs, rugs and any other common areas.
Ed recognizes that his employees need a little more flexibility to
take care of their family obligations right now. “To eliminate the
tension and anxiety of running errands that usually are done on weekends
during normal circumstances, I have given one paid day off, every week
since March, to my employees.” Ed said his team can select the day that
works best for them to tend to those chores or errands. His employees
are an extension of his family and he is committed to #StayTrue to the
values that the company was built on. 60 years later, and he still
maintains a family business.
A positive takeaway from the pandemic has been the gift of time and
reflection. Connolly Insurance has reduced their business hours to allow
for more time to take care of their loved ones. “It’s all about getting
back to the basics,” Ed explained. Whether it’s taking walks with your
family, having dinner together, or playing a board game, we should all
cherish this time.
Caring for the more vulnerable, such as the elderly or those in need,
is also very important to Ed. Although his business remains open, he
makes sure to take time off to deliver groceries to his mother and
mother-in-law. He also stressed that food pantries “need our support and
sponsorship right now,” so he has been making donations to various
Westford, Lowell and Boston organizations.
Ed is incredibly pleased with the insurance industry’s response to
the pandemic and gives kudos to the large companies that are voluntarily
returning premiums because people aren’t driving. Another company
offered to donate masks to Ed’s customers that desperately need PPE.
Again, it’s about saying thank you to your customers, giving people help
when they need it and being there to support one another.
Thank you, Connolly Insurance, for reminding us that since the world
has slowed down, it’s a rare opportunity to focus on what matters most
to us all, our family and friends both near and far. “Serving others as
we would be served” is the Agency’s motto and golden rule; Ed practices
what he lives by.
Are you interested in reading other stories like this? Check out the Small Business Spotlight Series and see how local businesses are pivoting in this time of need.