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Mike’s Blog | Transition Part I


A few repeated questions (plus very kind comments, thank you) have surfaced after the recent announcement regarding my transition soon from President and CEO of ProAg to Chairman of the Board and then, in 2018, to full retirement. This all done in conjunction with announcing the promotion of the highly qualified (and much younger) Kendall Jones to the CEO slot at ProAg.

These frequently asked questions and my relatively short career timeline give me a chance to jump start the blog and dispense what might pass for wisdom or at least interesting observations after one had had their “40 chances”. 

The first question to get out of the way concerns my health status. Thanks to those that asked, and I am fortunate to report that no known personal health issues exist. My apparently good health did contribute to the timing of the retirement decision. My experience and observation is that your best health in “the golden years” is almost always the early years. If one’s goal is to perhaps enjoy more travel, more golf, more fishing, etc., these activities are more likely to happen in your 60’s than your 70’s or 80’s. Anyway, thanks for asking about my health and remember no one is promised even tomorrow, much less another 10-15 years.  

The next question concerns what it is like to be President of a crop insurance company. When looking back, it seems that at one time or another I was President of American Agrisurance, US Ag, Crop Hail Management (CHM), National Ag Underwriters (the original NAU) Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) and finally ProAg. This seems like a person bouncing around, but it was just three different employers over 38 years and included a few mergers and acquisitions. 

The key thing to know is that I am now and was always an “employee President” and not an “owner President.” This is true across the AIP spectrum today; each current AIP CEO is in a crop insurance subsidiary of a larger institution. This means we all report up to another person in the parent company and have the same sort of relationship with a boss as every other employee. It keeps us grounded and generally under a set of corporate controls. The last “owner President” at an AIP may well have been Ben Latham at ProAg. 

It was an honor to be President of each of these companies and to lead the legions of great people in each that supported me in an effort to make a few dollars on behalf of the actual owners and to maintain a great reputation for the company. The fact is that several thousand people work for crop insurance companies across the USA and only a dozen or so are blessed to be in the top slot at an AIP. 

It is also an honor to pass the CEO baton at ProAg to Kendall Jones. Out of the several thousand people working in the industry, she would be my first pick in the first round if we had a draft, like the NFL. There will be no lost sleep on my part worrying about how ProAg will manage without me; it will be as good as or better than during the MC era. 

Comments or additional questions are welcome and as always feel free to drop me a line at mc@proag.com.

 

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