After 5,460 days and a lot more memories, I say goodbye

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.

Jaan

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