Now I have some sense of how Cal Ripkin and Brett Farve felt after their consecutive games played streaks ended at 2,632 and 297 respectively. In a few days I will formally retire from Parker Smith and Feek after 5,460 days of service and the feeling is clearly bitter sweet. It’s been a period of solid growth and success for our company as our annual gross revenues now easily exceed $300 million. Just doing some quick math indicates that during my tenure at Parker, Smith & Feek we processed over $3 billion in gross premiums- an extraordinary number for a regional broker.
In my personal view, retirement has never been a destination, just a passage to another stage. Hopefully a stage where one has sufficient resources and health to make new choices and pursue interesting challenges and opportunities.
Passages can take many forms, and looking back briefly I recall three that were indelible to me on my personal journey. The first occurred at a very early age when my family left a war torn homeland and found their way through Soviet warships out of Tallinn’s harbor and across the Baltic Sea to islands off of Finland and then on to sanctuary in Sweden. Growing up there on a farm is an untold benefit to a young boy.
A few years later, and after the second World War had ended, our family was on the move again as we crossed the ‘pond’ from Bergen, Norway to America, New York State and a land of unbelievable opportunities. A new language, schools, friends, a welcoming community and a new home were all part of that next stage. The years flew by: high school, academics, sports, competing, losing, winning, college, graduate school, career choices, marriage, children, divorce, parenting and providing are all part of one’s personal growth.
Then some twenty years ago I found my way to the Pacific Northwest and the next passage. Parker, Smith and Feek provided a new challenge, and an extraordinary opportunity. A culture that valued individual initiative and team outcomes, a long tradition of high expectations and continued growth, and a community of talented colleagues that worked toward defined and common goals. Clearly it’s been a pleasure to have been part of a team that has perpetuated and improved on a business model that is closing in on its 75th year of business. The future is always hard to foresee, but the values that guide one are immutable. My best to you all, and that next stage beckons.
As the year winds down, I am once again reminded how much our employees do for our community. I work with a lot of caring, generous people who spend the year focused on taking care of client’s needs and helping others on their team.
However, no matter how busy they get or how crazy work can be sometimes, they never fail to reach out and help those that are less fortunate than us. We have a tradition of reaching out to others in our community, but that spirit is not driven by Management. It is driven by our employees who feel that part of who we are is giving to others in need.
This spirit of giving and generosity is truly humbling. I am proud of all of our employees and thank you all for your loyal service this past year.
Happy Holidays to you all.
A colleague in our Communications Department recently shared with me an article titled “Why Requests for Proposals Are Unhealthy.” Since responding to Requests for Proposals is a big part of my job, I read this with interest. The article’s author suggests that Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) are unhealthy for both buyer and seller because the RFP process commoditizes products and services and “… reduces differentiation, even if it pretends to ask for differentiation.” He further argues that once a product or service is reduced to a commodity the only differentiator between you and your competitors, is price.
It was not clear which industry this author represented, but based on some of his examples, he most likely represented a company that frequently responded to RFP’s where the low bidder was selected no matter what. AND, he didn’t like the antiseptically level playing field that price-driven RFP’s created; he wanted to give his pitch, in person, directly to the buyer. Anyone, in any industry, who has responded to an RFP and was not the low bidder and therefore not selected, will emotionally agree with this argument.
My industry has been commoditized almost since its inception. We all hear the daily ads extolling us to save money on insurance, from the mouths of a gecko, duck, caveman, etc. For the individual insurance buyer, price is everything. But for businesses, the stakes are different. Seasoned businesses know that price is important, but not everything. For this audience, an RFP may be the key to unlock the differentiators between competitors that are not price driven.
An RFP seeking the lowest bidder may mask the talent and creativity a broker can bring to a business’ insurance program. It may also ignore the broker’s ability to lower a business’ cost of risk. In selecting an insurance broker, the so-called “conceptual proposal” – no price quotations – can expose differences in experience, industry knowledge, similarities in serving like clients, background and expertise of the individual service teams, and the broker’s innovation in designing a comprehensive, cost effective insurance program. RFP responses act as the “resumes” that tee-up the finalists who are qualified to do the work and have demonstrated their experience in doing so for others. RFP’s are successful screening devices which generate interviews, and interviews are the forum where buyers can evaluate, face to face, the potential “fit” for long term relationships.
As one whose career has been in the insurance industry, and who has responded hundreds of RFP’s for our firm, I believe RFP’s have their place and are not toxic to buyer or seller. Well-crafted RFP’s give the buyer answers that can clearly differentiate a broker’s strengths and weaknesses. RFP’s give the broker a chance to showcase how they can provide service, innovation and value. We never shy away from presenting a competitive price for our work, we just look for opportunities to illustrate the differentiators that make our firm unique.
With the passing of the Healthcare Reform bill we have seen an inundation of information and misinformation provided by media outlets; to the confusion of many.
Our clients asked Parker, Smith & Feek to create one resource that they can use to follow only the most important announcements. With that in mind we have created www.healthcare-reform-explained.com. A resource dedicated to only the most important Healthcare Reform issues.
Visit it at: www.healthcare-reform-explained.com
I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. We are already eight days into December, and already I have attended four Holiday functions this month, with many more coming before the Holidays.
Our last wellness event for the year has just started, with our “Maintain through the Holidays” challenge where the goal is to maintain your current weight through this holiday season. One of the best tips I saw during this campaign was “Staying healthy at Parties”, so I thought I should share it with you.
One of the best things about the holiday season is spending time reconnecting with loved ones and catching up on all that has happened in the past year. Parties and potlucks abound and wouldn't be complete without the sharing of good food or drinks. By paying attention to what you consume at these events, you can make choices that will leave you feeling just as recharged as you are from the conversation. Click here to download the Choosing Your Party Food tip sheet
Fit Tip - "Maximize Your Efforts" - Different types of exercise burn different amounts of calories. What is getting burned in your 30 minute workout?
Calories based on a 160 lb. person. Provided by Worksite Wellness
Wishing you all a healthy and fun Holiday season.
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