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Regional leadership spotlight
Better together
Gregory L. Kramer Senior Vice President, Midwest Region
When he looks back on the past year, Midwest Region Senior Vice President Greg Kramer notes that – although connections were maintained even when teammates hadn’t yet returned to the office – we are definitely better together.
“The first half of 2021 saw us continue to be physically apart but our teammates remained connected – not just to each other but to our customers, too,” he says. “Creating unique connections is really how we separate ourselves from others in the marketplace.”
Kramer says, in 2021, the region achieved the most profitable year in the history of the region, due to the talent of the team, the strength of the relationships with agency and association partners, and the commitment to FCCI’s culture and manner of doing business.
“The great thing of being part of the recruitment and hiring process is seeing just how talented these young professionals are,” he says. “Maybe it’s because I’m getting old but they seem so much better prepared than I remember being early in my career!”
Kramer emphasizes the genuine appreciation he has for the partnership and support of the Midwest Region’s agency and association partners.
“It all comes back to our customers: we appreciate them and their continued trust in us,” he said. “It’s been a crazy couple of years but it’s been encouraging to experience it together with such great people – within and outside of our organization!”
Resilience and relationships are key
Michael S. Noble Senior Vice President, Florida Region
Florida Region Senior Vice President Mike Noble credits FCCI’s Business Continuity Management program and culture for keeping the ship righted through turbulent times.
“I hadn’t realized how resilient our company and our industry could be,” Noble says. “When we closed the office for a year, we were very intentional about our business continuity efforts and executed the plan to a ‘T’. We operated differently than we ever have before and still set a record for new business in our region in 2020.”
The Florida Region’s 2021 plan called for $282 million in written premium and $49 million in new business; the team ended up at $294 million in premium and almost $55 million in new business. Noble expects to hit the milestone of $300 million in total written premium in 2022.”
The strength of the region’s relationships – with its valued agency partners as well as among teammates – contributed enormously to its success. “We got back into the office in the spring and really hit the ground running,” Noble says. “We do better together; the synergies picked right back up where we left off.”
While there is plentiful competition in the Sunshine State, FCCI’s Florida Region has an ace up its sleeve: “We are, essentially, the only Florida-based carrier that does all lines of business,” Noble says. “We were born here and are part of the Florida community; this makes us a very attractive solution for agencies and policyholders in our own backyard.”
With a team he calls “the best in the business,” Noble looks forward to the future. “As an all-lines carrier with a high level of service and commitment to our agency partners and policyholders, and our track record of stability and success, we’re going to continue to grow and be profitable.”
Purpose and passion
Tiffany C. Hawkins Vice President, Gulf Coast Region
FCCI’s Gulf Coast Region continues to “grow through what it goes through,” adapting to change, adding new talent, and providing exceptional customer service.
The region is poised to exceed its plan for the year, surpassing $140 million in premium with growth in all states. Tiffany Hawkins, Gulf Coast Region Vice President, notes that while frequency in claims is down, there has been an increase in claim severity. The team continues to make progress on its goals, thanks in large part to strong relationships, consistency, dependability and focus on listening and responding to agency partners.
“I think one of the things that has emerged from the pandemic is recognizing the need to be unique about creating connections,” Hawkins says. “With our agency partners and policyholders who have not returned to their offices and teammates working a hybrid schedule … We’ve had to be creative in building relationships, investing in teammates, and serving the needs of our customers.”
Hawkins says areas of focus in 2022 will include further enhancing relationships and increasing FCCI’s visibility within the industry.
“We want to continue to focus on profitable growth and increasing our market share in each of our states,” she says. “And we want our agency partners to know we will do what we say we are going to do. We want our service to continue to set us apart and will look for ways to be ‘difference makers’ in our industry.”
One quote has resonated with Hawkins lately: “Purpose is the reason you journey, passion is the fire that lights the way.” She asserts, “No matter what comes our way, we are committed to following our passion for taking care of our customers.”
Doubling down on success
Courtney V. Hart Senior Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region
In 2021, the Mid-Atlantic Region was coming off its most successful year and its recent entry into Pennsylvania. Although intending to concentrate on building on that success, leadership made the decision to focus inward and assess the long-term performance and profitability of its books of business.
“Our region was created to be an expansion region. We have experienced tremendous growth over our five years in existence, growing from $29 million in 2017 to $58 million in 2021,” says Mid-Atlantic Region Senior Vice President Courtney Hart. “But underneath the success was the issue of severity losses impacting our casualty lines of business.”
The region developed plans to reduce these losses through a focused underwriting approach that centered on pricing to the exposures, collaborating with risk control and claims to reduce exposure to severity and, in some cases, parting ways with poor-performing accounts.
While these actions impacted overall premium growth, new business remained steady and the quality of the book of business in the region is now much more sustainable, positioning the Mid-Atlantic Region to be a major player in the years to come.
With strong agency partner relationships, a stable leadership team, and ongoing efforts to recruit and retain talented young professionals – particularly to bolster efforts in Pennsylvania – Hart feels confident the coming year will bring great success.
“We provide exceptional insurance products backed by quality risk control and claim services, staffed by skilled insurance professionals who are focused on the needs of our agency customers. Our ability to listen, execute and follow through are what sets us apart from the competition.”
Adapting to a changing environment
Michael S. Noble Senior Vice President, Florida Region
Courtney V. Hart Senior Vice President, Mid-Atlantic Region
As Florida Region Senior Vice President Mike Noble noted, the pandemic was like a trigger that changed the world as we once knew it. In particular, the ways in which the FCCI team acquired and retained talent were reexamined. “Agency mergers and acquisitions increased dramatically. We needed to keep a proper work-life balance. Most importantly, it helped us realize that as a region, the team needed to be more agile and innovative.”
Mid-Atlantic Region Senior Vice President Courtney Hart agrees.
“Our industry became more determined to come up with ways to adapt and be successful. We can’t expect a ‘return to normal’ – we need to create a new mindset to thrive in the new norm.”
In this tumultuous environment, the Southeast Region grew its book of business to $125 million, wrote $26.6 million in new business premium, and onboarded 10 new professionals.
“Our team is moving in the right direction, and we’ve filled gaps in clarity and execution,” Noble adds. “We’re striving to ensure that everyone understands the company’s vision.”
Hart notes that the team continues to elevate each other by celebrating small wins. “It’s helping to build morale, and it increases trust in and with leadership,” adding that the Southeast Region’s agency partners are benefiting, too.
Both Noble and Hart agree, saying, “We’ve demonstrated that we’re here for our agency partners. When the environment changed, we discovered a new way of conducting business. We pride ourselves on supporting the success of our agency partners. When they win, so do we.”
Reunited and it feels so good
Tracey J. Pfab Senior Vice President, Southwest Region*
In 2021, Senior Vice President, Tracey Pfab and the Southwest regional team were ready to reconnect with teammates and agency partners.
“After interacting virtually, there were some folks who had been working with us for a year that we’d never met in person,” Pfab says. “It was like coming home when we finally got back together and even our new teammates felt right at home.”
Pfab notes that the team continued to build upon previous successes. “We continue to exceed our plans, we’re growing in the region, developing deeper relationships with our partners and bringing on some new ones. The combination of these things fuels the growth and reputation we’re trying to build in the region as a premier carrier and great partner to the independent agent system.”
The growth has been impressive – Pfab saw the Southwest Region finish 2021 above $86 million in commercial premium – nearly $10.9 million over what the team achieved in 2020. He predicts the region will approach the $100 million mark in under 10 years, which was always the plan.
In 2022 (and beyond), Pfab expects that trend to continue. “Our goal is to protect the franchise value of our agency plant. We will be adding new partners that can fill geographic voids while continuing to nurture strong relationships with our current partners.”
None of this would have been possible without what Pfab calls the region’s greatest strength: its team. “We’ve not only kept one of the best teams around in place, but also added some great new talent, which has enabled us to serve our agents even more effectively and give them the opportunity for greater success.”
*As of January 4, 2022, Tracey Pfab has become Executive Vice President, Chief Regional Officer.
Rising to the Occasion
Tracy L. Stoeckel Senior Vice President, Agribusiness
Senior Vice President of Agribusiness, Tracy Stoeckel, is a positive thinker who is still fascinated by Agribusiness: “I would encourage folks to learn more about what we do – it’s so interesting to learn how we grow our food supply!”
The power of positivity, creative connections, and the strength of the Agribusiness underwriting strategy executed by a superior team have combined for tremendous results.
“We had another phenomenal year and exceeded our goals,” Stoeckel says.
One area that Stoeckel made special note of was the development of new talent on the team. “These teammates are gaining experience every single day, taking on new challenges and continuously learning the business with the mentorship of all of our seasoned teammates and peers,” she says. “FCCI leadership did a great job designing the training plans, and we’re committed to growing that talent together.”
In the coming year, Stoeckel says the focus will be on maintaining underwriting integrity, growing partnerships, and increasing profitability with quality products and customer service.
Stoeckel is leading a team that appears to be on a roll … but no one is planning to rest on their laurels.
“As a leader, it’s really amazing to see what a team can accomplish together,” she says. “Despite challenge after challenge, our team continues to rise to the occasion and find ways to write or renew our business while keeping our promises and providing a high level of service.”
Staying visible in Surety
Scott G. Paice Senior Vice President, Surety
On its face, the recent and impending growth of Surety seems absolutely mind-boggling: FCCI’s Surety team doubled its capacity on the contract side (to $40 million aggregate, $20 million single) in mid-2021 and is planning to launch in 22 new states in the next several months. But Senior Vice President Scott Paice isn’t just taking it in stride – he’s looking to expand Surety nationwide. With the 2022 expansion, that means there will be just four states to go.
“Contractors travel to do their work – it’s important for us to get into all 50 states,” he says. “All of our competitors are already there!”
Paice notes that while other lines of insurance may have experienced significant impacts due to the continuing pandemic, construction – as an essential industry – has been going strong. But staying connected to each other and to their customers required purposeful effort.
“Our top lesson for the year was remembering to be as visible as possible, even with less travel,” he says. “We worked to stay engaged with our agents, never getting complacent about our relationships.”
The Surety team won’t be resting on its laurels: while Paice is elated to have surpassed the $27 million mark in 2021, the business plan calls for another 30% of growth – to $35 million in premium – by 2025. We are also focused on recruiting and nurturing new talent to build a skilled workforce for the future.
We are very grateful that we have been provided the tools and resources we need to succeed,” Paice says. “It’s evidence of the support, trust and confidence that we’ve not only built through our own efforts but also that the company enabled us to continue to grow and be profitable.”