John Rost – Adventure Guy

John Rost insures that his adventure-jones is always covered

Extremely Busy

John Rost insures that his adventure-jones is always covered

By Nancy Weingartner
As published in: Franchise Times – February 2011

It’s fitting that John Rost, 46, should own an insurance franchise – because if anyone needs insurance, it’s him. Unfortunately, his franchise brokers auto, not extreme-adventure, insurance.

Most of us are happy to be challenged only by the pettiness of daily life, but not Rost. His idea of testing his mettle 20 years ago was to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, for a week by himself, just as the snow started to fall. He had no way to contact anyone if he did get into trouble, and his only way home was to show up at the appointed time and place for the float plane to return to pick him up.
John Rost - Marathon
“It was lonely,” he admits, especially after he realized, “I haven’t spoken a word in three days.” Provisions included two tents: One to sleep in and one to house his food in the event of a bear attack. He hunted, fished and at one point was in danger of becoming a “QSR for bears,” when he got stuck in waist-high quicksand. He had to dig himself out with a rifle butt.

“I learned that I can survive,” he says. “I wondered how much I could tolerate. We don’t get tested often in today’s (world). If I can handle that, I can handle the pettiness of daily life.”

And that was just the beginning of his streak adventurousness.

Rost has climbed just about every mountain, but on Mount Everest, the world’s highest, he had to step over dead bodies frozen into the ground – some of whom had been there for 10 years. “You can’t airlift (bodies) out,” Rost explains. “”Helicopters don’t go that high.”

Here’s part of his itinerary: Get stuck in a tent for three days and nights because of excessive snow; cook food as it freezes, boil snow for drinking water in order to stay hydrated, eat 6,000 calories a day while feeling nauseous and light-headed. Refrain from losing your footing on narrow ledges.

To say one can’t afford to make a mistake is a bit of – well, underkill.

“You can’t read at altitude; you can’t listen to music,” he says. But you can lose 37 pounds in six weeks, even if you don’t have it to lose.
John Rost - Everest Peak

And to top it all off, the total cost of the “fun” experience was $400,000 (although he shared the bill with others.)

Rost says he’s always been a Type A personality with high expectations and a need to challenge himself. “The fun for me is the mental,” he explains. “The body can do so much more than your mind is willing to do.”

For instance, when a friend wanted to run a marathon at the Great Wall of China, he trained with her. Unfortunately, every time he ran his knee hurt. “I decided I could run every day and my knee would hurt, or I could just do the marathon and my knee would hurt once.” Although that one time of hurting lasted two months. On a positive note, he completed the 26.2 miles in the allotted time.

Rost also has built a four-seater plane, performed aerobatics flying (on his lunch hour), scuba dived, ridden camels across north Africa, raced cars and set two world records for aviation speed.

Image Descriptions – Fiesta Insurance Founder John Rost running a marathon, placing a flag at the top of Mount Everest and scuba diving.

John Rost Scuba Diving
Crash course in insurance

Opening a business may not be as intense as climbing a mountain tied with rope to other dare-devils, but it can be fraught with unanticipated risks. “People don’t get into business because they want to flip burgers or write (insurance) policies, but because they want something more,” he says.

As a child, Rost witnessed his mother putting herself through college, after a divorce from his father, a fighter pilot. “I remember living in a trailer and seeing my mom use food stamps,” he says. “I wanted more.”

Business ownership, he says, puts you in charge – more or less. Rost sold his share in his first company, National Insurance Centers, in 1998 and used his split to open Fiesta Auto Insurance in Southern California a year later. The insurance broker, which also performs tax-preparation services, targets primarily Hispanic and Latino customers who are more comfortable coming into a center to pay their premium. In Mexico, it wasn’t always reliable to send payments through mail. “We see our customer 12 times a year; we build relationships,” he says. Fiesta is now seeing a cross-section of other groups, which creates a demand for employees who are bilingual in the “neighborhood” language.

Rost named his company the Spanish word “Fiesta,” because it’s a “fun word for something no one wants to have to pay for.” Obviously someone wants to pay, because Fiesta has 88 centers opened since it started franchising four years ago. Two years ago, they first began franchising outside of California, and by early this year were expected to be in 15 to 16 states.

Meeting his goals is easy, he says. He has pictures of them on his bedroom mirror. The first thing he sees when he wakes up, and last thing he sees at night.

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