AIF Restructures For The Future

January 9, 2004
Source: Allen J. Keesler, Jr. - Chairman of the Board

In 1986 the Board of Directors of Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) voted to create a self-insurance trust to provide workers’ compensation to Florida employers. The rest is history. During the past eighteen years the insurance operations (now known as Associated Industries Insurance Company, Inc. and Associated Industries Insurance Services, Inc.) have become one of the premier workers’ compensation operations in Florida. The purpose of creating the insurance operations was to provide workers’ compensation coverage to small- and medium-sized employers who could not obtain coverage in the marketplace at that time due to the restricted writings of many major carriers and to provide funding for the governmental and political operations of AIF. The association has received a royalty fee since the very first day of operations of the trust. This has resulted in millions of dollars being forwarded for operations of AIF and millions of dollars being available for campaign contributions.

At this point in time the insurance companies, for a myriad of reasons, must discontinue the very significant funding of AIF. We are in the process of a transaction with regard to the insurance companies which will necessitate a major reduction in the funding to AIF from them, and this will require AIF to once again return to dues-based funding like most associations. During the past eighteen years the funding from the insurance companies have enabled AIF to build an infrastructure of buildings, computer systems, and personnel which would never have been possible through membership dues alone. This infrastructure is in place and will last for many years in the future, and the members will never be asked to pay for facilities. Also, for many years none of the dues will have to go into the purchase or upgrade of the computer system, which are essential for the operations of a first class association in this day and time.

Today, the association has undergone a major structural reorganization where we have significantly reduced our internal administrative staff. We will continue our lobbying team that has served the association so well for so many years and we will be adding to the lobbying team now and in the future. The focus of the association will be narrowed to concentrate on lobbying state government and engaging in political operations, which is where our members tell us they want us to be.

To lead the restructured association in Tallahassee, AIF President & CEO Jon L. Shebel has today appointed Stephen B. Trickey, a long-time AIF officer and the creator of Florida Business Network, as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Trickey will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the association.

Barney T. Bishop, III, President & CEO of the The Windsor Group, Inc. and a long-time AIF lobbyist, has been appointed by Shebel as Chief Lobbyist for the association and he will in that capacity be the person responsible for the daily operation of the lobbying effort and the coordination of the lobbying team. Bishop already serves as the Chief Political Officer for AIF.

Guy Spearman and Mike Zagorac, two of the most prominent lobbyists in Tallahassee, will join the AIF lobbying team. Both Spearman and Zagorac are members of various AIF boards, and they will be volunteering their services to enhance the lobbying operations of AIF.

As we move forward into this new era, the millions of dollars provided over the past eighteen years by the insurance operations have given us a very significant financial base, which is seldom available to non-profit business associations. The association in the future must look totally to the business community through dues and special projects to fund the ongoing operations of the association. We will be contacting you in the future with regard to your future investments in the work of AIF.