MEET JEFF GULLESON,
FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, GNI
Jeff Gulleson, President of Good Neighbor Insurance, was raised in the small town of Satsop, Washington, about two hours west of Seattle. “I’m not sure about now, but back in the day it had no more than 150 people.” Jeff says.
After graduating from college in 1963, Jeff joined an NGO working in Indonesia. During this time he learned Indonesian and later wrote several books in that language on communication skills and leadership.
Jeff first moved to a small town on Madura Island among the Madurese people. (Hear some of their stories here.) and especially remembers traveling four hours to Java weekly to find a copy of NEWSWEEK and catch up on Western news in English. Nowadays they have internet cafés, but this was back in the 1960s and news was scarce.
Mondays were also special as Jeff would put wife and two sons on his Vespa scooter and drive them to the beach for lunch as part of “family day.”
JEFF WOULD PUT WIFE AND KIDS ON THE VESPA SCOOTER AND DRIVE THEM ALL TO THE BEACH.
Once, when they were in the Singapore Airport on their way back to the U.S., Jeff’s preschool age sons went into the bathroom just to flush all the toilets. That was exciting entertainment because they had never seen, let alone used, a Western flush toilet until that time!
After seven years, the family moved to the big city of Surabaya, the second largest city on the island of Java. Here Jeff was a Field Director and did leadership training. In those years, the kids attended the Surabaya International School along with other Western embassy staff worker’s kids. Later, in Jakarta, the family lived a block and a half from the President and Vice President of Indonesia.
After 32 years, Jeff officially “retired” from his work overseas and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, primarily for the weather. As an entrepreneur, Jeff was soon looking for something new.
In 1997, he founded Good Neighbor Insurance in his spare room and began working to better protect and serve those same families and organizations that he knew so well overseas. That first year he made $7,500, but kept at it knowing many dedicated people were spending their lives doing good for others while they themselves were often at risk due to poor coverage or lack of affordable coverage.
In those days Jeff would say, “If I can make $2,000 a month, I’ll be a happy camper.” His oldest son, Doug, joined him in 2000. Over the last 16 years, Jeff and Doug have steadily grown Good Neighbor Insurance into a thriving business with solid financials. As a wise businessman, observing hard-working, savvy Indonesians, Jeff avoids debt and Good Neighbor purchased its current building in the Metro Phoenix area.