WEST TOWNSEND -- Spend 10 minutes with Joe Cappucci of West Townsend and it will soon become clear why the Joseph M. Cappucci Insurance Agency has thrived for more than 25 years, in a time when so many other start-up businesses have failed.

Cappucci became an independent agent in West Townsend after one year with a major Boston mutual insurer that gave him his first job out of college.

Though he had grown up knowing he wanted to go into business one day, Cappucci did not know initially that he would find his career path in the insurance world. But the industry has been good to him.

Cappucci focuses on life and disability income insurance and retirement planning, and describes his 1,200-plus clients as being from all over the map, "from the moms and pops market right up to formal estate planning."

Cappucci also does a lot of business with Midland National Life Insurance Company of Sioux Falls, S.D., an A+ Superior rated company by A&M Bests.

Cappucci credits his old-school Italian upbringing for instilling in him a strong work ethic.

"Everything I got I worked and paid for," noted Cappucci. "My parents never gave me a nickel."

Cappucci's grandfather came over from Italy; his father worked his whole life for General Motors. His mother was Portuguese and one of the smartest people he ever knew, he said, despite her lack of formal education. The Cappucci family valued hard work and expected it of each member. Cappucci believes that this instilled in him both the drive to go after what he wants and the confidence to follow through.

After three years at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Cappucci transferred to Fitchburg State University to be closer to his mother, who was fighting terminal cancer. Miraculously, Joe's mom went on to survive for eight more years. Seeing his mom battle and survive lymphoma cancer for so long inspired Cappucci to complete his BS in business management. He went on to what he called a "dead-end job," underwriting loans for a finance company.

At his brother George's urging, Cappucci took his first insurance job with John Hancock in 1986. This position required passing the licensing exam, which proved to be no problem for Joe. He then worked independently in his brother's firm in Pepperell for three years.

Then, in 1990, Cappucci struck out on his own, wanting independence and greater earning potential, he said. The gamble proved to be a good one, both financially and personally.

Cappucci's main objective is to problem-solve, matching clients with the right products. "I analyze and determine clients' life insurance, disability and investment needs," he explained. "Then, together we solve the problem using the right product."

He has access to multiple carriers, which makes him competitive, he said, and allows for more flexibility than agents who work for one major company. Though this meant a greater investment of time and education early on, the effort has proved to be worth it.

Initially, Cappucci had to take the Massachusetts Life Insurance exam. Now, he is required to take 45 continuing-education credit hours every three years. He is currently working towards a Chartered Financial Consultant Designation with the American College.

Cappucci's favorite part of his business is "seeing the satisfied and relieved looks on people's faces after we have put into place some great ideas and solved urgent financial needs."

He said he really enjoys helping people at various stations and levels of their lives, and the fact that many of his clients "end up becoming great friends."

A guy with many balls in the air, Cappucci doesn't like wasting time, his or anyone else's. "Fortunately, most of my clients are highly motivated to accomplish their financial and/or insurance goals, so this is a rare event," he said.

Outside of work, Joe is a dedicated Christian and family man, eagerly awaiting the return of his son, Christian, who has been serving with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan.

Married to his wife, Pam, since 1988, Joe is a father of four, whose Christian course has defined the way he conducts his business and his life, he said. Since his son's pediatrician shared the Gospel with him in 1992, shortly after he had lost his mother, Cappucci dreams of someday becoming a full-time evangelist, he said.

When asked his future goals, he said, not without humor, "Lord willing, to continue helping folks with life insurance -- and life assurance."