Fournier Insurance Solutions may have started in a bedroom, but the company has grown and expanded and now is celebrating its 40th anniversary.
The company that started as a one-man operation has grown to having 40 employees, according to founder Dick Fournier. Since those early days, Fournier Insurance Services has expanded to nine offices throughout Washington and Oregon.
Fournier has come a long way since 1980, when he was selling insurance out of his home.
“We always want more business, so then I started buying other companies and it just kind of expanded from there,” Fournier explained.
With growth comes increased challenges and obstacles in business, and Fournier says the insurance business is no different. When asked about upcoming developments within the company, Fournier said they are taking it one day at a time.
“It’s a day-to-day challenge. It’s a challenging business,” he explained. “There are a lot of trials and tribulations that go into it just like any other business.”
Fournier grew up in Montesano, his father was a local attorney. Fournier attended Montesano High School, afterward attending Grays Harbor College and the University of Puget Sound. After teaching in Bellevue for five years, Fournier felt the draw to come home to Montesano.
Fournier says he had always wanted to coach college sports. A teacher as well as a football, track and wrestling coach at Montesano High School from 1970-1977, he always hoped he would make it to the next level of coaching. Of course, Fournier knew to keep his options open.
“If I couldn’t get a college coaching job, I’d go into business,” Fournier said about the window of opportunity he gave himself to acquire a coaching position at the collegiate level.
It seems that Fournier Insurance Solutions was meant to be, as Fournier said during the spring of 1975 an individual came in the high school, offering the staff summer positions selling insurance for Franklin Life Insurance. Fournier took advantage of the opportunity, selling for Franklin during the summers of 1975 through 1977.
Coaching in college didn’t pan out for Fournier.
“I decided in 1977 I was always going to be the bridesmaid and never the bride (when it came to coaching collegiate sports), so I went into business selling insurance full time,” he said.
The most exciting development over the years for Fournier has been the incorporation of his three children into the business.
“My children now run the company, they’re my bosses now and I’m okay with that,” Fournier said.
“It certainly doesn’t feel like that at times,” daughter and vice president Kendra Fournier said of the claim that she and her siblings are the bosses.
Fournier’s son and current president, Ryan Fournier, reiterated his sister’s position.
“We don’t really look at it that way, it’s a family business, and it’s really more about getting to spend time with my dad inside and outside of the business which is pretty neat,” he said.
Kendra says that she remembers cleaning the office when she was in junior high.
“I got to know the employees and came to realize that they really are like family,” Kendra said.
Growing up watching their father operate the business provided significant learning experiences for the Fournier children, one example in particular having stuck with Karen and Ryan to this day.
“He does a wonderful job of making everyone feel valued. He would make it a point when visiting other locations to go to everyone’s desk and say hello,” Kendra said.
“It all starts with work ethic and the relationships built with employees and clients,” Ryan said, referencing what he learned from watching his father.
Relationships and community involvement are important to Fournier, and so he continues to bring awareness to student athletes by way of the “Athlete of the week” contribution to The Vidette.
“I wanted to recognize kids coming through school,” Fournier said.
Aside from recognizing athletes, Fournier hopes that the contribution will help students realize the value of education, and therefore stick with it.
“The recognition of being an athlete gives spirit to the school and helps motivate students that are less academically inclined,” Fournier explained. “I’ve always felt that it (the recognition) has an integral part in education. I’m proud that we do that.”
Fournier appreciates the opportunity to give back to a community that he holds dear.
“Most people, when they get out, they don’t come back, but I always felt drawn back to Montesano because I love to hunt and fish and love the community,” Fournier said. “I guess I’m just a small town boy.”