About Jim

Jim was born in upstate New York and moved to Pensacola, Florida, when he was six years old.  With the Blue Angels flying overhead and bayous, bays and the Gulf of Mexico as his backyard, there wasn’t anything that Jim and his friends couldn’t ski on, or be dragged or pulled on, with a boat.  Jim has a few scars that serve as badges of honor . . .

Jim had his first paper route at a young age and worked up from a bicycle route to a motor scooter route after he finally saved enough to buy a scooter and was old enough to get a license.  When Jim turned sixteen he was able to start working at the Pensacola Naval Air Station Officer’s Club.  He idolized the young aviator candidates as he envisioned himself joining their ranks one day.  Jim even went to a military naval academy college prep school during high school to experience a taste of military life. 

The University of Mississippi, affectionately referred to as Ole Miss, accepted Jim and his college career started, along with his ROTC experience.  Studies were of interest, but the conflict in Viet Nam was troubling as well.  Jim felt a stronger need to serve his country, so he volunteered to join the Marine Corps in 1969.  One of his very first missions in Viet Nam was hanging out the back of a helicopter; not exactly in the pilot’s seat, but in the bird.  Having survived a full tour of Viet Nam, returning to college was a much more focused experience!

In 1973, Jim started a swimming pool business with a dream and very few dollars in his pocket.  Diligence, hard work, and focusing on the needs of the customer was rewarded with considerable growth.  Gulf Coast Pools had the capabilities to design and build the entire “backyard concept” with its team of over twenty employees.

In 1986, Jim’s brother-in-law urged him to consider joining the insurance industry.  Jim, always ready for an opportunity, spent a few days with him observing.  Jim valued excellent insurance for his employees, and his key employees had enhanced benefits.  Well, Jim liked the insurance industry so much, those key employees now own and operate the pool business today.

Since January 1987, Jim has had the pleasure of working with professionals, small business owners and highly compensated employees to preserve their lifestyle with income protection plans, their family financial security and estates with proper life insurance planning, and their supplemental retirement income with unique IRS acceptable plans.

Jim’s enjoyment in his insurance business comes from helping others achieve financial security when they need it most; at claim time.  Jim has had medically disabled clients tell him that without the personal and business overhead disability insurance he encouraged them to buy, they don’t know how they would have survived financially.  Jim even counseled one doctor into stopping his surgical practice because his blood pressure spiked when he performed surgery.  Jim merely told him that’s why he bought the “Own Occupation” disability protection.  The doc thanked Jim many times for wise counsel, not to speak of an extended life.  Also, several times a surviving spouse has thanked Jim for being a strong advocate to own the “right amount” of life insurance to protect the family.  Even though, in many cases, that same spouse didn’t want to spend the extra money, they now realized, in reality, it was the “right amount” to keep the family in the home and lifestyle they were accustomed to.   Other rewarding experiences are having professional/business owner/high income clients tell Jim how satisfied they are with the tax-favored business and estate planning methods Jim recommended to them, even though it took them a while to fully understand and get started on the concept.

Besides the pleasure of interacting with clients, Jim enjoys landscape projects, pond building, and general piddling on his acreage in Cherokee county.  Golf, general aviation and Kiwanis are also favorites.  Right after Jim earned his private pilot license in 1978, he, his wife, Karen, and their one-month old daughter took off on the first of many aviation adventures.  Jim joined the Metro-Marietta Kiwanis Club in 1989 because he liked the Kiwanis focus of helping young children and engaging in community projects.  After a brief time in the club, Jim took over the newsletter duties, later became the club secretary, eventually the club President, and then a Georgia District Lt. Governor.  A memorable Kiwanis project that Jim created and directed was the Great Kiwanis Duck Race.  Kiwanians from all over metro-Atlanta sold 50,000 “duck adoptions” for $5 each to benefit new mothers throughout the region.  This was a joint project with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, The March of Dimes, and The Carter Center.  Our official “Quack Master” was John Smoltz, the legendary Atlanta Braves pitcher.  It was a sight to behold to see that many rubber ducks being dumped from a truck into the meandering river at White Water Park in Marietta.  The winning “duck adopter” drove away in a brand new Mazda Miata donated by Jim Ellis Mazda.  What is Jim’s next Kiwanis project going to be???

Jim had the privilege of participating in the Leadership Cobb class of 1997.  This is a coveted leadership development program that provides a learning environment that enhances personal and professional growth to benefit the community and its region.    Jim also had the pleasure of serving on the Cobb-Cherokee Development Authority at the request of his friend and current Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, and on the Executive Board of The Atlanta Project with President Jimmy Carter as a representative of Kiwanis International.

Jim has two grown children, Stephanie and Jay, and is blessed with five grandchildren at the moment.  Jim’s wife, Karen, of thirty-five years, was a school principal at Timber Ridge Elementary, then at Sope Creek Elementary in Cobb County.  After bravely battling cancer, Karen passed away in 2007.  In 2009, Jim met Debbie Saunders and is currently engaged to be married.