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Following in family footsteps

From left to right, Jake and Stephanie Lauritsen of Lauritsen Financial and Aaron Hovland of Far North Insurance, Inc. are part owners of the West Fargo building West Fargo Advisors, LLC. Submitted photo

Aaron Hovland and Jake Lauritsen, both of West Fargo, have followed in their father's footsteps. Now owners of their own businesses and partners in an office building, each pause to look back at how the years, experience and their fathers' influences have gotten them here.

Duane Hovland, Aaron's father, was an agent with American Family Insurance for over twenty years before starting his own business in the mid-1990s. Aaron can remember working for his dad early on. For a few extra bucks in his pocket he would help with filing, cleaning the office and even tagging along to some appointments.

Aaron went to college for business administration but didn't have his mind made up as to where he wanted to work after graduation in 2002. Duane helped him get a job with GE Capital selling life insurance and Medicare supplements. It didn't take long for Aaron to realize it wasn't a good fit for him and in the spring of 2003 he asked his dad if he could work for him. Aaron admits he was nervous, knowing both father and son were stubborn, he hoped they wouldn't disagree too much.

Working with his father ended up going much better than Aaron had originally imagined. As the work relationship emerged he realized that his father was a great mentor and motivator. "He has always been a big supporter and helped me develop professionally. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be where I am today."

Unlike Aaron, Jake always knew he would follow in his dad's footsteps. His father, Louie Lauritsen, had been in the insurance and investments industry since the 1970s and was at a point where he needed another advisor in the office. He encouraged his son to get a business degree, in as few years as possible, and he would be ready to show him the ropes upon graduation. Jake did as he was told and started working with his dad the summer of 1999.

As time progressed and Jake became more experienced as a financial advisor, he branched off into his own business Lauritsen Financial with wife Stephanie by his side. The father and son duo still have some joint clients and each use the other as a resource and to share ideas. They still share an office and both rely on Stephanie as their assistant.

Aaron and Jake knew each other from high school and had always been friends. When Aaron started working for his father as a property and casualty agent, Jake contacted him and the two began collaborating on some life insurance business.

Jake's office was in downtown Fargo and the commute became less and less desirable. He spent several years searching for an office building in West Fargo to call home. His vision was to have one building with a property and casualty insurance agency, an accountant, an attorney and himself as a financial advisor.

Finally one day he received an email from a commercial realtor who knew he was looking. He immediately called Aaron and three hours later they made an offer, the seller accepted, and their dream came true.

The process of purchasing the building wasn't smooth and easy. But after a lot of sweat equity, several rounds of paperwork and documents to the SBA, and multiple contractors resulting in a full remodel, it was theirs. The building is now owned by West Fargo Advisors, LLC which includes Aaron, his business partner Pat Jones, Jake and his wife Stephanie.

Having their businesses located in West Fargo means a great deal to both Aaron and Jake. Both were raised in West Fargo and are excited to also be raising their own children in the community. Jake and Stephanie; have two children, Jason, 6 and Reagan 3. Aaron is married to wife Kelly and they also have two children, Avery, 5 and Easton, 1. The four kids have already established their own play space at the office and have a shelf in the refrigerator reserved for their juice boxes. The next generations are already getting a taste of the businesses they will grow up around, just like their dads.

The businesses at 1241 Prairie Parkway are Far North Insurance, where Aaron and Pat are agents, Lauritsen Financial, Jake and Stephanie's business, Brudvik Law Firm and Christopher Gapp, CPA. Each business will be hosting an Open House the afternoon of Thursday, May 24. The community is welcome to stop by from 2 to 6 p.m. and see the newly remodeled building.