By Michael J. Whitlock
There is a winter storm coming down from the north that will sweep across the Midwest over the Northeast guaranteeing snow for Christmas. Snow just adds a little something to the occasion and the season.
I probably don’t embrace the season as much as I should for reasons unknown. I do enjoy looking out my window to see the cars of my adult kids parked in the driveway. No matter how old they get, I never stop worrying for their well-being and having them all at the house certainly adds to the holiday spirit.
Given the state of our country and the increase in crime in our communities it’s always a relief to have family around. My son and daughters know the first question I’m going to ask when they tell me they’re looking at a new place to live is, “have you checked the crime rate for that area of town?” What can I say, it’s who I am.
The American Surety Company family is also very important to me. I’ve worked alongside many of them for more than half my life and I spend more
time with them than I do my own family. We recently held our annual holiday luncheon. Bill Carmichael, P.J. Longstreth and I, took the opportunity to recognize five of our team members on reaching personal milestones with ASC. Erin Smith and Tasha McCauley received their five-year certificates, Susan Galan received a ten-year certificate, Kim Smith, 30 years, and if that wasn’t long enough, Melissa Combs was celebrated for 35 years of service.
Melissa and I go back farther than 35 years, as we both worked for Allied Fidelity. Working with the same people for decades brings a level of comfort and confidence to an organization. Their knowledge and service provide assurances to our bail agent partners, knowing their needs will be met timely and efficiently. The relationships that develop between our team and our agent partners has everything to do with why American Surety Company has one of the best agent retention percentages in the industry.
American Surety Company is an all-lines property and casualty insurer and until recently exclusively provided financial guarantees on the criminal appearance bond market. After a two-year runup, ASC started a commercial bond division earlier this year. This required adding more than 20 members to our team with more than 150 years of combined experience and knowledge working in the commercial bond market. They are an impressive group. We are very excited for the future and welcome these talented individuals to the American Surety Company family.
My optimism for the bail business is ever increasing as we see common sense making a comeback in many parts of the country. This is particularly notable in Cullman County, Alabama where Sheriff Matt Gentry recently announced, “we have bail back in Cullman County.” Cullman County had been a defendant in a lawsuit regarding the bail process. The 11th Judicial Circuit had placed certain requirements on the sheriff’s office and recently gave Cullman County the green light to begin requiring bail again which caused Sheriff Gentry to say, “When you bring accountability to those that will do harm it makes the community safer.” Indeed.
Keeping communities and family safe is what it’s all about and spicing it up with some holiday spirit just adds to the fruitfulness of life. On that note, from our expanded American Surety Company family to yours, we want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year!