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A diamond celebration complete with red carpet

Hundreds of well-dressed stars crossed the red carpet on Monday night at the gala anniversary dinner. A photo booth offered the opportunity to commemorate the event, and speeches were punctuated with a celebratory serenade of bag pipes by PIANJ immediate past President Stephen Tague and son Dan Tague with drums by Michael Monacelli.

Anniversary wishes from friends of PIA

Legislators and officials from New York and New Jersey state government congratulate PIANJ and PIANY on their 75th anniversaries.

New Jersey State Senator and three-time mayor of Atlantic City James Whelan welcomed PIA attendees and congratulated the association for its 75 years of supporting producers, their employees and the communities they serve. Throughout the gala diamond anniversary dinner, political friends of PIANJ and PIANY sent well wishes to the associations.

PIA recognizes shining stars

PIANY President Alan Plafker, CPIA and PIANJ immediate past President Stephen Tague, CPIA announced award winners at the Monday night gala.

PIANY past President N. Stephen Ruchman received the Community Service Award from PIANY. "I continue to ask myself, 'Why me?' when there are so many dedicated and qualified people working with and at PIA … Community Service is something I enjoy and find fulfilling, but every professional agent here knows it also is just good business sense. You can tell from looking around this room: The most successful among us—regardless of how you define success—are also the busiest and community oriented among us."

Listing myriad examples of fellow volunteers and their work, Ruchman shared his recognition with all of them. "I accept this award on behalf of all of the PIA board members and volunteers who devote so much of their time to our association in addition to the countless other hours of community service they've put in," Ruchman said.

Past President N. Stephen Ruchman received the Community Service Award from PIANY.

Newly elected PIANJ President Glenn Tippy joined Tague on stage to present the Company Person of the Year Award to James P. Ayers, President of Franklin Mutual Insurance Co.

PIANJ Legislative Representative Leon Zimmerman joined Steve Tague on stage as to present the PIANJ Distinguished Services award to former DOBI Chief of Market Regulation Anne Marie Narcini, who currently works as regulatory consultant for the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission.

Two PIA staff also received awards at the gala dinner. Char Gaylord, government affairs coordinator, who will retire this month, and Conferences Manager Kim Zielinski, who manages the PIANJ/PIANY Joint Annual Conference and all events hosted by PIA in both states received presidential citations and special recognition, respectively.

Maria N. Escalona, CPIA of Jimcor Agencies Inc. and Leslie C. Rogoff of Madison Avenue Brokerage Corp. both received awards for Director of the Year from PIANJ and PIANY, respectively, during the associations’ board meetings.

Inaugural address and change of administration in New Jersey

Monday's dinner also featured the inaugural address of newly elected President Glenn Tippy, CPCU, CLU, discussed attributes that make the professional, independent agency system the best distribution method for insurers and clients, as well as the issues the industry must attend to in order to insure its own future. His observations were made during his inaugural address at the association's Diamond Anniversary Gala Banquet, which was part of the PIANJ/PIANY Joint Annual Conference earlier this week in Atlantic City.

During his address, Tippy discussed the strengths of independent insurance professionals and that which sets them apart from online insurance providers and other direct-sales organizations. He shared that preparing for his inaugural speech, he thought it might be be the most important speech he's ever given. But, on further reflection, he knew that he and fellow professional agents in local communities everywhere already had given the most important speech repeatedly during their careers as professional, independent insurance agents. "You know what that speech is?" he asked the crowd. "It goes like this: 'You'll be OK, you bought what you needed for this, we prepared for this, and we'll help you get back on your feet.'"

"We have personal knowledge about our clients. We care about them. We live side by side with them," he said. "This personal relationship, combined with professional drive, made evident and strengthened by our attendance and participation in our association, the information we obtain from PIA—the superior education and networking that keeps us current and connected—are the hallmark of professional, independent insurance agents."

The value of insurance does not come from a simple transaction. Tippy said that professional, independent insurance agents offer thoughtful advice and have unique knowledge of an insured, which is something that can't be provided by a machine.

"Reach out a hand and let's lift each other. It's what professional, independent agents do."

Tippy also discussed the importance of a strong agent-carrier relationship, noting the relationship works because of strong, vigilant partners. "Successful carriers recognize that professional, local, agents are the most knowledgeable risk assessors of each unique community and because they are the best marketing tool. Professional agents offer consumers a face and a name they trust," he said.

"So, professional, independent insurance agents are going to be around for a long time, and with the help of each other, our partners and our association, we can look forward to a prosperous future," said Tippy. "But, that's not to say we don't have to be concerned. Just as we tell our customers, we need to be vigilant, plan and work to make sure we'll be OK, that we are prepared and we'll stay on our feet."

With a nod to his predecessor and board, Tippy said the insurance industry and PIANJ must continue to address important necessities to secure the professional agents' future: 1.) bring young people into the business and encourage them to join the PIA Young Insurance Professionals; 2.) support women in the industry; and 3.) encourage people with diverse backgrounds to join the industry. To illustrate his point, Tippy said that PIA's Women's Business Forum has continued to grow and the association's inaugural Diversity Advisory Council was a huge success this past year.

Pipers PIANJ immediate past President Stephen Tague (middle) and son Dan Tague (left) with drummer Michael Monacelli closed the evening's program.

"We do those things and growth will take care of itself," said Tippy. "Perpetuation will take care of itself. Victory for ourselves and our system is assured. Reach out a hand and let's lift each other. It's what professional, independent agents do."

New leaders recognized

Both PIANJ and New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals installed 2014-15 officers and directors.

PIANJ officers

  • President Glenn Tippy, CPCU, CLU, president of Gerrity, Baker, Williams Inc., in Flanders, N.J.
  • Vice President Vice President Donald F. LaPenna, Jr., president of Donald F. LaPenna Associates in Clark, N.J.
  • Charles Caruso, CIC, CPIA, of of Herbert L. Jamison & Co. LLC/Jamison Insurance Group in West Orange, N.J.
  • Vice President Kacy Campion Renna, CIC, of Wall Township, N.J., president/owner of Connelly-Campion-Wright in Belmar, N.J.
  • Treasurer Lloyd H. "Rip" Bush Jr., producer for Keer & Heyer in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
  • Secretary Bruce Blum of Blum & Walsh Group Inc., a division of T.E. Freuler Agency in Somerset, N.J.

PIANJ directors

In addition, the association elected professionals to its board of directors for a three-year term, expiring in 2017.

  • Salvatore Abate, CPIA, of Anderson Jackson Metts in Mount Laurel, N.J.
  • Bruce Blum of Blum & Walsh Group Inc., a division of T.E. Freuler Agency in Somerset, N.J.
  • Maria Escalona of Jimcor Agencies in Montville, N.J.
  • Connie Mahoney of Mark Anthony Associates in Mountainside, N.J.
  • William McMahon, CIC, of McMahon Agency in Ocean City, N.J.
  • Michael Merwin, CIC, CRM, CPCU, CRIS, MBA, of the Merwin & Paolazzi Insurance Agency in Lyndhurst, N.J.
  • Kristen M. Scott, CPIA, of Chamber Insurance Agency Services in West Orange, N.J.

2014-15 NJYIP officers

  • President Casey Yarger, CIC, of Robert Petri & Daughter Insurance Agency in Milltown, N.J.
  • Vice President Natalie Bruno, CPIA, of D'Agostino Agency in Hammonton, N.J.
  • Treasurer and Secretary Aaron Levine of LG Insurance Group in Long Branch, N.J.
  • Immediate past President Thomas Wilkens of Professional Risk Placements LLC in Red Bank, N.J.

2014-15 NJYIP directors

  • Kristen M. Scott, CPIA, of Chamber Insurance Agency Services in West Orange, N.J.
  • Frank Raab of T.E. Freuler Agency in Somerset, N.J.
  • Lisa Rivlin of Forensic Consultants of North America in Whitehouse Station, N.J.
  • Dawn Amato of Herbert L. Jamison & Co. in West Orange, N.J.
  • Daniel Tague of The Travelers Cos. in New York, N.Y.
  • Logan True of True & Associates in Westfield, N.J.