john3Although John F. Savage was a giant in the financial services industry, he was best known as a caring, practical, and humorous man who inspired those he met and gave back to his community.

John Savage founded Savage and Associates in 1957 from a tiny office with no secretary. In just 14 years, the agency grew from approximately $4 million in annual production to over $50 million. John was a Qualifying and Life Member of the Million Dollar Round Table and principle speaker at conventions and seminars worldwide.

According to his brother Bob Savage, past president of the firm, “John was a teacher and coach who was very fond of one-liners. He loved to inspire people with funny stories that offered insights into how they could overcome problems and achieve success. John traveled the world making speeches and meeting people from all walks of life. His optimistic outlook rubbed off on thousands.”

John Savage died of leukemia in 1993, but the company he helped build is recognized today as one of the 100 largest insurance and financial service agencies in the United States, according to the General Agents Management Association. 

The management team at Savage & Associates created a tribute video of their leader and mentor, John F. Savage, it can be viewed here.

Remembering John F. Savage

“We were in Florida on vacation at my parents retirement village…an older gentleman was by the pool and asked me where we lived and what I did for a living. I told him I worked for Kelly Savage with Savage and Associates. He instantly remembered John Savage from MDRT meetings (he is a retired insurance representative) in the past and had nothing but great things to say about who John was, his character and how impressed he was with John’s speeches during these meetings. At that time it had been 17 years since John’s passing and this gentleman spoke of John as if he had seen him speak a few weeks ago…that’s the impression John made on this man.”

Beth Hoye
Administrative Assistant

“I’m the most fortunate person because, for 20 years,my family got to grow up with John’s family, and to this day, I’m extremely appreciative of that opportunity. It wasn’t just the one-liners that John said so much as it was his collection of key phrases that inspired me in business. I’ve always said my own father taught me my work habits, but John Savage taught me my street sense.

I never tracked how many times I sat in on his interviews, read his books, listened to his tapes, or heard him in-person delivering a talk or him just chatting with a crowd of agents at the Million Dollar Round Table. I heard some of his phrases hundreds of times, and I found them all extremely humorous, yet meaningful. I used to think there was something wrong with me that I could laugh at the same expressions time after time. He was that good.

One time John was driving up Interstate 75 and pulled over to help a person whose car was stalled along the interstate. John brought the person to the Savage office and then gave that person his own car so they could get back to Detroit (one hour away). He told them to return his car whenever they got their own repaired. He never knew the person’s name, phone number, or anything. Two days later that individual dropped off John’s car and keys back at our office. When John worked, he worked. When he played, he played. He would stay out of his office for the three summer months doing fun things with his family, like conducting basketball camps on his backyard courts. But despite his staying away from the office, you’d still see him at breakfast and lunch tables with his clients helping them resolve whatever the issue of the day was. He was always available to help anyone out at any time.

John’s only request of his fellow man was to ‘Keep It Going.’ We are.”

Wayne Milewski
Savage Advisor

“My father was a partner of and great friends with John Savage. I knew John my entire life. It has been an honor and privilege to continue the teachings, the philosophies, and the attitude of John Savage at Savage and Associates and in the Toledo community. My professional and personal life have been greatly influenced by John Savage. His infectious zest for life and the willingness to serve are what drive the organization today. Making a difference and doing something remarkable in our lives is what Savage and Associates is all about.”

Phil Johnson
Savage Advisor

“The last words to his kids were ‘Keep it Going.’ We all knew what that meant. Family, Faith, Hard Work, and Integrity. As I reflect over the last 20 years and look at how things are today, I know he would be so proud of how his wife is doing, he would be proud of how his children and, especially, his grandchildren are doing, and he would be very proud that Savage and Associates has continued to grow and thrive. My dad was unique, and that uniqueness cannot be compared. We miss him greatly, but he continues to live on in each and every one of us that he touched and inspired.”

Kelly Savage
Daughter and Savage Advisor

Insights from John Savage

John Savage loved instructing young agents and advisors about business, life, and serving customers. One of his core teachings was “Business goes where it’s invited and remains where it’s appreciated.” Below are some other favorite “Savage-isms”.

 “The road to excellence is always under construction.”

“Work eight hours and sleep eight hours; just make sure they aren’t the same eight.”

“No success in the workplace makes up for a failure at home.”

“A negative thought is a down payment on an obligation to fail.”

  “We all drink from wells we did not dig.”

 “Shout praise and whisper criticism.”

“To be successful you must serve – not be served.”

“Life is a series of adjustments.”

“People who don’t make mistakes always work for people who do.”

 “Before you speak, you should be sure it’s going to improve on the silence.”

“Be wrong so others can be right.”

 “Success and money have nothing in common.”

 “If you don’t believe in yourself, it’s probably unanimous.”

For his kids…


“It’s my way or the highway.”

 “Honest effort is always rewarded.”