EAST PROVIDENCE – Joseph Paiva could not help but smile while taking a glance around the new East Providence business plaza bearing his family’s name.
“Although this is not the biggest building ever built, it is very big in my eyes and those of my family,” said the proprietor of The Agency Paiva and Real Estate on Sept. 30, during the inauguration of the Paiva Plaza, located at 501 Warren Ave.
The new plaza houses a 3,680-square-foot building and ample parking. The anchor unit, measuring 1,600 square feet, will now be home to The Agency Paiva, which Paiva founded 35 years ago. The remaining two units have been combined to accommodate Bling Eyewear, an optometric practice and optical boutique in Cranston that has decided to open a second location.
Although it was not planned that way, Paiva said the plaza is all about family. Not only is Bling Eyewear a family run business like The Paiva Agency, it’s also owned by Paiva’s sister-in-law’s family.
“This is such a special occurrence,” Paiva said proudly. “This is almost like having a birth in the family.”
Paiva noted the decision to build the new plaza was made thinking about the “future of the agency” and the “future of his children.”
“It was a dream that came about suddenly,” confessed the Azorean immigrant. “I came across this property by accident, while I was helping a client friend to look for property. I probably would never have considered it, if it wasn’t for the fact that my sons were working with us. I would probably just be content retiring and going into the sunset at my current location. This makes me feel as though the business is endless and there is no end to it. It’s a good family story.”
Dozens of folks gathered for the inauguration ceremony, including relatives, friends and business associates of the Paivas, several city officials and community members.
East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva cut the ribbon on the new facility along with Paiva, his wife Odilia, his sons Alex and Nicholas and future daughter-in-law Kelsey McNulty. He said the new plaza is “a beautiful addition” to East Providence and thanked Paiva for his investment in the community.
“The Agency Paiva has been a stronghold and fixture here in East Providence,” said the mayor moments before presenting the Paiva family with a congratulatory citation on behalf of the City. “We are very proud of the fact that Mr. Paiva has taken an empty lot and turned it into this beautiful, vibrant new plaza. We hope many other business owners will see this development as an example of what can be established when you bring everyone to the table to get it done right.”
The Paivas broke ground on the new plaza last December. The mayor said this project is a testament of the City working in collaboration with private investments.
“We were able to get this project done in record time,” stressed the mayor. “We are there to help. The city should be there to help people who want to invest in our community to make something like this become a reality.”
The new building was blessed by Rev. José Rocha of the Providence Diocese.
“Thank you for the good things you brought to this town,” Father Rocha told Paiva, before pointing out that he has met the four things needed in order to be successful: be honest, be hospitable, identify the people’s needs and meet those needs.
Paiva is someone who epitomizes the American Dream.
He emigrated from Rabo de Peixe, Azores, with his family at age 6, settling in Bristol in 1967.
He graduated from Bristol High School in 1979, while working in a factory full-time during his junior and senior years.
After graduation, he became a licensed real estate agent. He sold property part-time, while continuing to work at the factory.
In 1983, he joined Metropolitan Insurance in East Providence.
Five years later, he decided to “take the plunge” and opened The Agency Paiva, renting office space at 254 Warren Ave.
In 1994, he purchased a multi-family building at 194 Warren Ave. A couple of years later, after making some substantial renovations, he moved the agency from 254 to 194 Warren Ave, where it remained until last week.
Along the way, his wife Odilia and sons Alex and Nicholas joined the business – his wife 15 years ago and his sons Alex and Nicholas six and four years ago, respectively.
For Alex, who serves as account manager, it’s been “really nice” working with his father and to help continue to build on the family legacy.
“You come to work and it is business, but you work with the people you love every day,” he said. “We’re very happy to see the next phase in the business and see our family grow as well.”
Nicholas, who also serves as account manager, said he was very excited to see the family business expand.
“I am so proud of our dad and to see his accomplishments… We will see where the road will take us,” he concluded.