When the Joyce Insurance Group moved to downtown Pittston in 1992, it was to a boarded-up building.
Joseph J. Joyce Sr., who founded the insurance group in 1955 in the basement of his parents’ home, however, knew exactly what he was doing when he chose to relocate to the dilapidated property across the street from a few buildings severely damaged by fire.
He simply wanted to help the city of Pittston recover from a series of unfortunate happenings.
His sons Bill, John and Joe, who now run the company, say their dad wanted to be part of the Renaissance of the city and he wanted to do so by focusing on all the needs of its residents, not just their insurance needs.
As they gathered over coffee on a recent morning, taking time to look back on the history of their business, the brothers said they feel the company has done just that.
“Dad wanted us to stay in Pittston,” said Bill. “He felt we had a duty to the city.”
The brothers take that duty seriously.
“We’re a part of the community. We take part in the parades, in the Tomato Festival,” said Joe. “We help community organizations, including the Care & Concern Clinic.”
The brothers, who have seen the revitalization of the city become a reality, say it was made possible by the spirit of cooperation that permeates Pittston.
“The mayor and council may have had differences, but they were always willing to work together,” said Joe.
John said it is the spirit of cooperation and willingness to work together that has made it a pleasure to do business on North Main Street for over 25 years.
The company’s success has spilled over, not only to its customers, but to its employees.
“We’ve provided a table environment for employees,” said Bill. “They’re situated comfortably.”
Indeed, the brothers said, one employee has been with the company for 60 years.
As Joe makes his way through the building, commenting on its history and its staff, it is apparent the leadership of the company is willing to think “outside the box.”
“When we needed more space, we originally thought we were going to add a floor or expand the property,” said Joe. “But when that didn’t work out, we came down the basement.”
And expand to the basement they did, in an “industrial chic” setting that at first the brothers didn’t think would work.
But it did work, and Joe’s enthusiasm and good spirit as he walks through the basement with its animal skin patterns, strung lights and trendy furniture, makes it apparent it’s one of his favorite parts of the building.
Complete with a community area, wide screen TV and exercise room, the basement area also serves to reinforce the business’s commitment to its employees and to the community.
“During parades, we invite people to come downstairs and have something to eat,” said Joe. “Employees often work out after work.”
There is one part of the basement, however, which stops Joe in his tracks.
As he walks by a photo of his brother Mike who passed away in 2006, he recalls the courageous battle he fought against head and neck cancer.
During the 14 months Mike spent in that battle, he asked that his friends raise money to support other families who might not be capable of handling the financial burden of long-distance treatment, establishing Miles for Michael, a nonprofit organization.
The photo depicts Mike at the nonprofit’s first event.
“He held on to be there,” remembered Joe. “He died the next week.”
Miles for Michael, managed through the Luzerne Foundation, provides debit cards for families battling cancer.
“They might use the money to travel to the hospital or for somewhere to stay,” he said. “We want to provide them with what they need.”
Joyce Insurance Group now has five locations: Pittston, Nanticoke, Old Forge, Hazleton and Allentown.
According to its website, it has been in business for 62 years, has 17 professional agents and nearly 6,000 customers.
There are 60 employees, many of whom have been with the business for decades.
With nearly $60 million in annual sales, the business looks to the future with enthusiasm.
“We look forward to passing the business on to the next generation,” said John. “They share our commitment to our customers, to the community and to the city.”
Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.