40 Under 40 Class of 2009

Renee Stolar

Renee Stolar

Age 28: President, J. Stolar Insurance Agency Inc.

After Renee Stolar’s father passed away suddenly in 2005, she wasn’t about to let his dream die, too.

After all, she and her brother remembered the humble beginnings of J. Stolar Insurance Agency in Three Rivers — a business their father launched from his basement in 1980.

“My brother and I grew up with it. We spent our whole childhood watching him build this business, and we felt very strongly that we should continue it, not only for Dad but for the family. Our father was active in the community, and this was a way to continue that.”

At the time, Stolar was teaching middle school in Palmer, and her brother was still in college, so she had a decision to make. Having suspected she might eventually work in the family business anyway, she made a quick career switch and took over as president of the agency.

In doing so, she has managed to introduce some fresh ideas and grow the company — which certainly wasn’t a given early on, when few of the agency’s clients were familiar with the founder’s daughter.

“We have a phenomenal client base — really loyal people who stuck with us after my dad passed away and they weren’t sure what was going to happen,” she said. “I love taking care of the things that are important to them — their business investments, homes, sentimental jewelry, cars, the toys in their garage.”

Stolar acknowledges that she left teaching before she expected to, and still keeps in touch with some of her former students. “I loved dealing with children, and I’ve always been passionate about that,” she said, “but you never know what’s coming down the road ahead.”

Sometimes, it’s a motorcycle — specifically, one that a man named Joe Niedziela came in to have insured with the agency last spring.

Today, he and Stolar are engaged to be married — proving, of course, that some unexpected curves are blessings indeed.

—Joseph Bednar