Attendees at this year’s Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) Annual Meeting in Orlando were treated to four days full of networking and educational opportunities-not to mention illuminating speakers and dazzling entertainers, all nestled in the lush setting of the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress hotel.
Kicking things off on May 7 was AAMGA University Day, one of the highlights of the meeting, which provided members with a chance to pick up both CE credits and professional development. This year’s offerings touched on topics including the financial consequences of buy/sell arrangements, building the customer service mentality, changes in BOP forms and the types of markets wholesalers can use them in, and management and leadership development in a hyper-competitive market.
Chris Behymer, director of education for the AAMGA University, commented on changes the University has undergone during the past year. “We’ve tried to survey and determine what [the members’] specific educational needs are,” he said. “We’ve radically updated our Web page. We now have the ability to register online for courses.”
In addition, the AAMGA University offered its first regional course in December 1999, and plans to hold another two this year, in Kansas City and Buffalo, N.Y. “We’ve also done a lot more with automation training, automation types of curriculum,” Behymer said. “And we’ve revised the catalog in the last year and a half-made it a little more user-friendly.”
Behymer added that in the past, some of the larger agencies indicated that it was often difficult and costly for them to send a lot of support staff out to the courses. “So we came up with a two-pronged approach. Number one is the regional classes [but] we can’t, obviously, hold regional classes everyplace in the country. We can now offer people an option of acquiring some of the hours they need for that designation via self study programs.”
The University Weekend concept will also be expanded “because people like the idea of being able to attend multiple topics and, at the same time, do it in strategic locations around the country.” Breaking the tradition of having just one University Weekend per year, AAMGA will be offering two in the year 2000 and three in the year 2001.
A large number of AAMGA University graduates were honored at an awards breakfast on May 9. In addition, a blazer, pin and plaque were bestowed on outgoing president James A. Roe of Arlington/Roe & Co. Inc. in Indianapolis, Ind., as were individual plaques to outgoing board members
Robert Schacher of Continental Special Risks in Roswell, Ga., and Donald J. Penniall of Penniall & Associates in La Crescenta, Ca. Several committee members were also recognized during the event.
Capping off the week’s activities was a formal changing of the guard, or the official stepping down of 1999-2000 President Roe. He was succeeded by Leonard T. LoVullo, president and CEO of LoVullo Associates Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y, during a gala banquet on the evening of May 10.
In a pre-Mother’s Day innovation, LoVullo’s mother, Jeanne, came onstage to introduce her son, speaking eloquently of her family’s pride in LoVullo for having realized his father’s dream by becoming the president of AAMGA.
Also honored that evening was Kendall Wright of Van-American Insurance Services in Birmingham, Ala., who was the recipient of the Earle Dillard Award. Kendall was chairman of the InterAssociation Liaison Committee for the past two years.
New AAMGA President LoVullo talked with IJ about key external issues for the organization during the past couple of years. These include determining what stance to take on deregulation and other legislative issues as well as building relationships with the Big “I” and NAPSLO.
“Jim Roe, our current president, has done a very nice job of working with those groups, and I see it continuing with me,” LoVullo said. “My biggest priority right now is to maintain what we’ve begun in terms of our relationships with other associations. We’re going to be attending the National Association of Insurance Women at their annual convention in Kansas City in June [and] we’ll be at the Big ‘I’ national convention in Orlando in September.”
Another result of this focus is the fact that the AAMGA University has had discussions with Tim Pedersen, president of NAPSLO, inviting the NAPSLO members who do not belong to AAMGA to attend AAMGA University stand-alone courses.
As for internal issues, “that’s where it gets into the committee work,” LoVullo continued. “That’s where I really have a lot of fun. I think we’ve got a terrific group of people that we’re going to be working with this year. Automation is by far the largest committee. They will be doing a number of things this year, [like] creating a Web site. They have an automation seminar that is growing like crazy. They expect to have people from all corners of the industry at that meeting next year in February.”
Baron Garcia, president of Oklahoma General Agency in Oklahoma City, also officially assumed the role of AAMGA president-elect, making him the first minority to hold that office. Interestingly, the late Marie Welch, the association’s first and only woman president, worked out of the same agency as Garcia.
Although a theme won’t be decided until Committee Day in June, Garcia is already looking forward to next year’s annual meeting, to be held in Palm Springs, which he is in charge of planning. “[In the] insurance industry, we’re going through some very difficult times, [but] this business has been very good to a lot of people,” Garcia said as a preface to his predilection for
balancing hard work with a healthy dose of fun.
“[Next year] is AAMGA’s 75th anniversary, and we’re going to try to make it a
really special convention,” he concluded.
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