THIS MONTH'S BULLS EYE FEATURE: Tony Mahon II
From an undoubtedly formative but relatively inauspicious beginning cleaning pig stalls for a Burlington County farmer, the career path of 53-year old Jobstown resident Tony Mahon has had quite an arc.
“My first "real" job was working for a pig farmer off of Jacksonville Road. If I wasn't cleaning pig stalls, I was walking next to a flatbed stacking hay bails,” Mahon recalls.
“Then my father gave me the opportunity to work in his insurance office. In comparing it wasn't a hard choice as to which one I'd rather do. So an insurance man was born.
“From there I had the good fortune of working with some terrific companies, General Accident Insurance in Philadelphia and Alexis (Alexander and Alexander Self Insured Services) and finally coming back home to my father's company.
It’s interesting to note that “coming back” did not translate into “taking over.” Mahon’s father had a strict no nepotism policy which he followed to the letter.
“After a time and my father's retirement I decided to brave the rough waters of entrepreneurship and go off on my own. I bought AJM Insurance in the winter of 1993 and never looked back.
“To this day, I thank my father for that nepotism policy. I am fortunate to say that what I built with the help of some great guys is exactly that—"what I built."
“In 2013 amidst the ongoing aggregating of businesses in my industry I again was very fortunate to pair with a company that matched our beliefs, Assured Partners. Assured Partners has given us the power of a national brand while allowing us to do what we do best in local service.
So, now Mahon is President of AJM Insurance, which is a division of Assured Partners of NJ LLC. The firm has 30 employees and the umbrella corporation has now become the ten largest brokerage firms in the United States.
“We have an entrepreneurial spirit in the company that allows all of us to bring in new and innovative products to the marketplace. As for others in our field I am proud to say we have no one remotely close to doing business the way we do,” boasts Mahon.
Mahon describes his father as “a giant of a man not only in stature but in business and in public service. His mother, he adds, “was an incredibly gifted woman who sat on the Arts Council of New Jersey and was the first woman on the board of The Walnut Street Theater in Philadelphia.
Mahon grew up on a farm just outside of Mt. Holly with two older sisters. “I was the only boy and the youngest, so, according to my sisters, I got away with many things. I'm not sure I recall it that way. I do know that both my sisters were strong, smart role models who gave me great guidance as I grew up. I'm fortunate to have them in my life.”
Mahon has been married for 23 years to “the love of my life. I am blessed beyond description. We actually met on a triple date with my sister and her husband and my wife with her boyfriend at the time and me with my girlfriend at the time. We hit off much to the chagrin of our significant others at the time.”
The Mahons have have two children, Alexandra 21 and Anthony 19. His daughter just finished working in the office of South Dakota Senator John Thune in Washington and is now studying Graphic Design and Communication at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His son is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire studying Finance/Accounting with a Chinese minor. “He is living in his fraternity house and having the time of his life. Oh to be 19 again,” adds Mahon ruefully.
His business philosophy, Mahon says, comes from his father—"Always make your most difficult call your first call".
“When an issue arises deal with it immediately. This has always been proven right time after time. It’s not easy but it works every time. When it comes to building a business its simple, "ABC, Always Be Closing."
“If I don't believe with every fiber of my being in the work that I am doing then I will not be able to close what I have found. Doing the right thing for people and showing them a new way to do it is one of the most rewarding events a business owner can experience.
“Lastly, giving the people I work with the ability to grow and make their own decisions can be difficult but just as rewarding. Watching someone who grow into a position of leadership is another rewarding opportunity I have been able to witness in our partnership with Assured Partners,” Mahon explains.
His personal motto is “God, family, self. Family extends to my business colleagues and the charitable endeavors I pursue.”
When asked how he measures success, Mahon suggests that “the best person to ask about a person's success is their partner. Whether its their spouse or their business partner, how you treat the people you are with is in direct proportion to your success in life. Success is always defined as a group effort rather than an individual enterprise. I have been fortunate to surround myself with like-minded, hard working people. Treat people with respect and enjoying your life will give a success that cannot be measured.”
Mahon says that the toughest decision he ever faced was leaving the company his father built and going out on his own.
“Even though he had retired, I had many friends who worked there and I knew things were going to change dramatically. I tried to leave on friendly terms but in the end it played out in the legal system. It was one of those life experiences,” he adds philosophically.
His greatest fear, he says is “losing contact with my family. In the end, the people that truly have your back are your family.”
Asked to identify a mentor, Mahon responds “That is easy. It was both my father and my mother. They provided the ying and yang of my development.
My father instilled in me the sense of responsibility and work ethic needed to run a successful business. My mother shared with me her love of the arts and the character development they help foster.
“I feel so fortunate to have been able to enjoy the success of building a business mixed with the cultural fulfillment of participating in the arts. It’s a balance I continue to seek today. My sense of responsibility ranges from helping wonderful endeavors like MEND in Moorestown to the Rowan College at Burlington County Foundation to the Workforce Investment Board to the Philly Pops and Philadelphia Soul ‘Youth Football & Cheer Clinics’ Community Outreach Program we started.”
The most important life lesson Mahon has learned, he says is “Always finish strong and always be honest.
“My largest client came from a cold call. I was fortunate enough to be able to provide insurance for a small strip center he was leasing. I did my homework and secured a great program for him. The current broker tried to bury my quote by bad mouthing the location to the insurance company I used. I had been honest with the carrier and had told them everything about the location, including taking photos. The carrier shared with me and the client the move the other broker tried to pull. From that day forward he has been my client for over 20 years. I was honest and prepared to finish strong, “ Mahon concludes.