William J. Chabina, Sr. started his own insurance brokerage in 1959. More than fifty years later, three generations of the family are still actively involved in the business at their in Syosset.
"Our dad established William J. Chabina Insurance in 1959," William J. [Bill] Chabina, Jr. said. "He was an insurance broker and decided to start his own agency in Manhattan." Bill and his brother Clifford are currently the principals in the business.
From the start, it was a family effort. "My mom helped my dad start the business," he said. "She was an instrumental part of it."
"When we were very young, she would see us off to school, then catch a late train into the City," recalled Chabina. "Then she'd come back a little earlier, so when we came home she was there."
As Chabina grew up, joining the business wasn't his intention. He studied management in college, which he says was a good background for the business world, but not specifically focused towards being an insurance broker.
"After college I went into the National Guard, and when I got out jobs were hard to come by," he explained. "And my dad said 'You have to do something... come into the office.'"
"So, I started working for him," he said."And I stayed... I just never left."
Along the way, Chabina furthered his education in the business, including getting his CPCU, the insurance equivalent of a CPA.
Around the time William, Sr. was retiring in 1980, they decided to relocate the business to Long Island, into an office building in Jericho.
"My dad was used to going into Manhattan... he felt you had to be in the City to do business," Chabina explained. "But it got to the point where we felt it would be more advantageous to be out here."
"We could see that business was developing on Long Island," he said. "And we wanted to build our business here and position ourselves to better serve our clients."
Shortly after the relocation, younger brother Cliff came on-board.
"After college, I went into the local Syosset real estate market," Cliff said. "And for me to join here was a nice marriage… a nice connection."
In 1994, the brothers moved the agency to its' current Syosset village location at 30 Whitney Ave.
The Chabina's are proud of the depth and diversity of the relationships they've developed over the years. "We're dealing with children of people my dad knew," Cliff said. "...and now we're into the third generation."
On any given day their contacts may include someone just starting out with their first car or home, a multi-million dollar company or the international airline they count among their customers.
"It's very diversified and you talk to so many interesting people doing different things," Bill said. "That's why I enjoy it."
The agency is poised to continue well into the future, as this year Bill's son Greg joined the company after first working for a large insurance company.
"It's great having him – he's been a great asset for us… to help take the agency to the next level," Bill said. "And it's nice having the next generation in the family business."
Although William, Sr. passed away 16 years ago, Mrs. Chabina still works as a part time bookkeeper for the company.
As for the future, Cliff, for one, isn't thinking retirement just yet.
"The way I look at it, we can't retire until mom does, and she's still going strong," he said. "After all... she's only 90!"
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