The Lewer Companies

Lewer Attends NACS HR Forum in Tampa

The 2014 NACS Human Resources (HR) Forum was held March 4 – 6 in Tampa, Florida. Vice President, Special Markets John Owens, who represented Lewer at the forum, said he has enjoyed attending the forum every year for almost a decade.

Unlike generic HR-related events, the NACS HR Forum provides attendees with actionable information on topics specific to their job – in their industry. National-caliber speakers and industry peers provide in-depth insight and knowledge about new laws and regulations that impact the convenience industry, best practices and how to find and keep the right talent, and ways to manage rising labor and benefit costs. The forum was organized by Terry McKenna of C-Store Coaches.

Owens presented on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) while at the conference. “The PPACA is a timely topic for HR managers,” said Owens. “In fact, learning more about health care reform is so important to this group, one of its members, Director of Personnel at Country Fair, Inc. Steve Seymour, conducted a health care survey at the forum.”

“The great news,” Seymour wrote in his email to members outlining the results of the survey, “is that most all companies represented had a good understanding of PPACA and felt they had a good strategy in place. It is far from a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. Companies are looking at it from many different perspectives.”

The seventh question on Seymour’s survey was as follows: Does your company have a good understanding of their responsibilities under PPACA? A significant number of members surveyed – 92 percent – indicated that their company did have a good understanding of their responsibilities. Owens has presented on health care reform and the PPACA at a number of NACS meetings in recent years.

Lewer Expands Staff

Diane Jimenez

Diane Jimenez

Katelyn Bidondo

Katelyn Bidondo

The Lewer Companies are pleased to announce that Diane Jimenez joined the team as an administrative assistant, July 8, 2013, and now serves the companies as a customer service representative.

Jimenez is a volunteer at El Centro, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas, where she has donated her time for the cause of the ¡Sí, Se Puede! Program since 2009. She is also a Peer Leader at Metropolitan Community College – Maple Woods (MCC), in Kansas City, Missouri. Originally from Laredo, Texas, Jimenez graduated from Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri in 2011. At Park Hill, she served as Spanish Club President, was Consular of the Youth Leadership and Diversity Training Program, and Founder of HALO (Hispanic American Leadership Organization).

In 2009, Jimenez was recognized by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute at an annual conference for her leadership in the Hispanic community. She plans to continue her undergraduate studies in business administration and marketing at the University of Missouri – Kansas City in May 2014.

Katelyn Bidondo assumed the role of receptionist at The Lewer Companies, September 3, 2013. Prior to joining Lewer, Bidondo worked as a teller and customer service representative at U.S. Bank and the Bank of America in the Westport and Brookside areas of Kansas City, Missouri. She also worked as a student assistant at the Women’s Center at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC).

Following her graduation from Raymore Peculiar High School in Peculiar, Missouri in 2007, she received an Associate of Arts degree from Longview Community College and went on to continue her studies at UMKC, where she received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Spanish in May 2012. At this time, she is working toward a Masters degree in Romance Languages with an emphasis on Spanish studies at UMKC.

Lewer U.S.A. to Purchase Lewer Canada Shares; New Director Appointed

Craig Griffith

Craig Griffith

The Lewer Companies are pleased to announce that Lewer U.S.A. is purchasing the outstanding shares of its affiliate, The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario. In addition, Craig Griffith has been appointed to the position of Director, Business Development and is assuming a leading role in the business development and management operations of the company.

The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., and its affiliate Sainte-Marie, Lewer Inc., have been in operation in Canada for nearly three decades, providing companies affiliated with the petroleum and automotive industries in Canada with comprehensive and competitive health benefits programs.

“In recent years, an important area of growth for Lewer Canada has come from partnering with select broker partners who are able to create value for their clients by bringing the unique value proposition available through Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd. and Sainte-Marie Lewer, which propels Lewer’s Canadian clients’ ROI and increases the satisfaction for all stakeholders in a company’s benefit program,” said Griffith.

“Helping businesses and insurance planners across Canada, we are able to bring the knowledge and experience of fellow specialists in securing their Benefit and Compensation programs. Our biggest strength is our understanding of their plan,” he said. “We use our knowledge to provide a professional and experienced review of the administration and funding of our clients’ benefits programs and we focus on finding and improving efficiencies. Our prominence in the marketplace allows us to customize our programs to achieve our clients’ specific goals.”

Griffith has 17 years of experience in group insurance, savings and voluntary benefits, with 12 of those years working inside a Property and Casualty (P&C) brokerage. He began his career with the life insurance division of a major Canadian insurance company and quickly moved into consulting on employee health and dental care plans for small and medium size companies. The role expanded to consulting for brokers, providing them with service and advice for their client’s group benefits needs. While serving in a consulting role, he saw the opportunity to provide clients with advice and service on their P&C insurance and also began serving businesses with their commercial insurance needs.

In 2001, Griffith joined a P&C brokerage integrating group benefits and group retirement savings into their product portfolio, working with small and medium companies to analyze their employer and shareholder needs, and implementing successful and sustainable benefit programs. Now at The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., he is working with clients to offer a complete suite of services to improve their ROI and to increase their employee’s engagement through benefit plans and compensation planning.

Prior to Lewer, Griffith worked as a benefit consultant for Healthsource Plus in Toronto, Canada. Healthsource Plus is a People Corporation Company that focuses on Group Benefits, Benefits Administration, Claims Management, Wellness, Group Retirement Solutions and Human Resource Solutions. He also worked as a Sales Consultant, Insurance Solutions for ADP Insurance Canada, in Mississauga, Ontario, focusing on companies with 100 to 250 plan members throughout Ontario.

In addition, and for over a decade, he worked as Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Caponi McLean Group Benefits, a Canadian company. While serving in this position, he was committed to delivering sustainable and progressive employee benefit strategies to Canadian and international employers. His career path also includes nearly a decade of group benefits sales experience with Dale & Morrow Insurance and Financial Services.

Griffith says he is looking forward to a challenging and rewarding career with Lewer Canada. “I look forward to developing new distribution channels; capitalizing and expanding our reach within the existing affinity markets, creating new affinity markets, and working with suppliers and Lewer U.S.A. to expand our products and markets.”

LFA Writes Detailed Financial Plan

Lewer Financial Advisors, LLC (LFA) is pleased to announce that Senior Vice President Greg Addison and investment advisor Dan Compton finalized the details of a comprehensive, formal financial plan, written August 21, 2013. The clients’ estate is valued at $4 million.

“There were some complexities, including owner operated businesses, real estate, farmland, government income, multiple existing IRA and brokerage accounts, employer sponsored retirement plans and deferred receivables which all needed to work together,” said Addison. “We also needed to work with an estate attorney to design an appropriate trust to house their estate. It was a number of weeks worth of work, but it was well worth it as we ended up with a comprehensive, integrated financial plan for the client. In addition to designing their overall financial plan, we also won the right to manage all of their investable assets which included employer sponsored retirement savings plans and self-directed IRAs.”

Addison co-wrote the case with Dan Compton, who joined LFA as a consulting investment advisor in January, 2013. “I brought Dan into the discussion because he is really good at creating financial plans – particularly those involving farmland,” said Addison. “He is also particularly good with working with more experienced clients who have more complex portfolios. After we presented the financial plan to our clients, they asked if we would submit a proposal for the ongoing management of their assets. As a result, we are now their financial advisors.

“I really enjoyed working on the case,” Addison said. “Our clients want to retire in four years so they can spend more time with their grandchildren. It is nice to be in a position where LFA can help them reach the goals that are important to them.”

Cristo Rey Student Begins Internship at Lewer

In September, The Lewer Companies were pleased to welcome a student intern to the team as part of the Corporate Work Study Program, coordinated by Cristo Rey, a Catholic school in Kansas City, Missouri that serves culturally diverse students with economic needs and their families. The student will be interning at Lewer through May 2014, when her junior year work study program concludes at Cristo Rey.

Cristo Rey interns can be as young as 14 years of age, due to the school’s special provision from the U.S. Department of Labor that allows Cristo Rey to employ children this age and older. In the U.S., the standard age for employment is 16.

Every student works at least one day per week. On their assigned work day, students dressed in school uniform attire are transported to and from work by Cristo Rey drivers. Most perform entry-level clerical work, such as answering phones.

Corporate job sponsors, like Lewer, commit to a fee-for-service contract stating that money earned by students goes directly towards the cost of their education at Cristo Rey. So that the work/study program does not interfere with their academic studies, Cristo Rey requires a longer school day and a longer school year. Instructional time is structured so that no student worker misses class to go to work.

According to the Cristo Rey website, the Corporate Work Study Program is an essential component of a Cristo Rey education. Students earn credit hours for work study and roughly half of the cost of their own education. All new students attend a four-week Summer Training Institute. The institute teaches them a range of workplace skills. Returning students participate in an intensive one-week refresher course at the beginning of the school year.

Corporate sponsors hire Cristo Rey interns to bring diversity to the workplace, support the development of the future workforce in the Kansas City area and to ensure that hard-to-fill entry-level jobs are staffed.

Uni-Select Auto Parts Company Returns to Lewer Canada

The Lewer Companies is pleased to announce that its affiliate in Canada, The Lewer Insurance Agency Ltd., has finalized a new agreement with Uni-Select Inc., a major distributor in the automotive aftermarket. The company, through its subsidiary, Uni-Select Inc. – USA, is also strongly established and strategically spread across 48 states. In addition, Uni-Select is a major independent distributor of paint and related products in North America. To date, Uni-Select, which was founded in 1968 in Boucherville, Quebec, is the largest distributor of automotive parts in Canada and the sixth largest distributor in the United States.

According to Lewer Canada’s Director of Business Development, Craig Griffith, Lewer Canada has written Uni-Select business inside Quebec for a number of years. “When they decided to market a benefits program outside Quebec, they called Lewer right way because of our great service and products,” said Griffith.

The new program will be launched in October 2013 to Uni-Select’s Auto Service Providers (ASP) division outside of Quebec, in addition to Uni-Select Members at the company’s wholesale locations.

The company is focused on putting customers first, according to the website. “Uni-Select endorses entrepreneurship, opting for a network of independent merchant members. In addition to offering the best automotive products, it is dedicated to present state-of-the-art marketing and sales programs to its entire network of independent jobber, installer and body shop owners.”

A.M. Best Maintains Lewer Life’s Rating

Directors of Lewer Life Insurance Company are pleased to announce that A.M. Best has awarded the company a “B” rating after analyzing the company’s performance. Members of the executive team participated in the annual 3-hour conference call with A.M. Best on April 23, 2013 and learned that the company had maintained its rating in a letter from A.M. Best, dated May 10, 2013.

Founded in 1899, A.M. Best Company is a full-service credit rating organization dedicated to serving the insurance industry. Policyholders refer to Best’s ratings and analysis as a means of assessing the financial strength and creditworthiness of risk-bearing entities and investment vehicles. It is the largest and longest-established company devoted to issuing in-depth reports and financial strength ratings about insurance organizations.

Lewer Life has reported relatively consistent net income in recent years due to investment income supplementing underwriting results, according to the report. The report also listed a number of major business diversification initiatives undertaken during this last period.

A.M. Best also advised that a future positive rating action may occur if Lewer Life successfully transitions to student insurance products exempt from healthcare reform, generates increasing non-student insurance premium revenue and continues to report relatively stable or improving earnings trends.

“This is the crux of where we are with Lewer Life,” commented President Mike Lewer. “We are working very hard right now to make the changes within the organization necessary to accomplish our goals. We look forward to continuing our improvement in our A. M. Best rating. Lewer Life will continue to reposition to meet the challenges related to the regulatory environment and financial markets, as well as the changing needs of the marketplace.”

LLIC Investment Advisor, Commerce Trust, Earns Lipper Award

Brent Showe (left) and Lewer Life investment advisor Scott Colbert accepting the Lipper Award on behalf of Commerce on March 14, 2013 in New York

Brent Showe (left) and Lewer Life investment advisor Scott Colbert accepting the Lipper Award on behalf of Commerce on March 14, 2013 in New York

Lewer Life Insurance Company (LLIC) is pleased to announce that Lipper, a leading provider of mutual fund information, analytical tools and commentary has given Commerce Investment Advisors, Inc. its highest rating in the Best Fixed Income Small Fund Group. Commerce Investment Advisors took the top spot out of 61 qualified companies in this category receiving an asset class group award. Scott Colbert, director of Fixed Income Management, The Commerce Trust Company and Commerce Investment Advisors, Inc., accepted the honor March 14, 2013 at an awards ceremony in New York.

According to a news release dated March 17, 2013, fund groups with at least five equity, five bond, or three mixed-asset portfolios in the respective asset classes are eligible for a group award. The lowest average decile rank of the three years’ Consistent Return measure of the eligible funds per asset class and group determines the asset class group award winner of the three-year period. The small fund group category must have at least three distinct portfolios in one of the asset classes – equity, bond, or mixed-asset. The threshold for determining large and small companies is $43.5 billion as of October 31, 2012.

“This recognition provides further evidence that Commerce Investment Advisors and its Fixed Income group continue to deliver strong nominal and relative performance,” Colbert said upon accepting the award. “I attribute our success over time to our focus on maximizing risk-adjusted return and our position as a money management arm within a high-quality bank. I believe it’s our credit work and the ability to identify value in various fixed income sectors that really distinguishes us on a relative basis over this time period and that has allowed us to work our way into the top percentile rankings.”

“Scott and his team have managed LLIC’s fixed income bond portfolio since December 2006,” said LLIC President Mike Lewer. “The board of directors has enjoyed working with Scott and his team through the years and fully understands how deserving they are of receiving this prestigious award.”

LFA Licensed as RIA in Two More States

Lewer Financial Advisors, LLC (LFA) was launched in November 2012 after Lewer received notice from the state of Missouri that the LFA application for licensure as a corporate Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) had been approved. Since the launching, LFA has become an RIA in two additional states – Louisiana and Kansas.

LFA Senior Vice President Greg Addison received the good news via the IARD, the industry acronym for Investment Adviser Registration Depository. IARD is an electronic filing system that facilitates investment adviser registration, exempt reporting adviser filing, regulatory review, and the public disclosure information of investment adviser firms. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the developer and operator of the IARD system. The system has been developed according to the requirements of its sponsors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), along with those of an Industry Advisory Council representing the investment adviser firms.

Following the latest RIA license approvals, President Mike Lewer commented that the development of LFA was the result of extensive research and precision timing. “The decision to switch to a new model for Lewer’s financial services arm came when Lewer began observing significant changes in market conditions,” said Lewer. “While the health insurance markets began exhibiting more uncertainties, the financial services markets began showing significant opportunities, especially in our niche markets. An increasing number of large investment brokerage firms have pulled out of the small business market. This trend presents us with an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on our stronghold in the market.”


LFA Partners With TD Ameritrade

On December 14, 2012, Lewer Financial Advisors, LLC (LFA) senior vice president Greg Addison announced that the financial services firm’s enrollment package had been approved by the TD Ameritrade Review Committee.

According to online sources, TD Ameritrade was born after the Securities and Exchange Commission eliminated the practice of fixed brokerage commissions in May 1975. A handful of small firms, including “First Omaha Securities, Inc.”, saw a unique opportunity. First Omaha Securities, based in Omaha, Nebraska, evolved into TD Ameritrade, and for over 35 years has remained a pioneer in an industry that continues to find new ways to make Wall Street more accessible to the individual investor.

In 2005, Ameritrade purchased TD Waterhouse USA from TD Bank Financial Group, creating TD Ameritrade, one of the largest discount brokerages in the United States – and the largest in terms of average client trades placed each day.

“The decision to work with TD Ameritrade wasn’t a tough decision,” said Addison. “Our team felt strongly that TD Ameritrade offered the best solution.”

Addison and the LFA evaluation team – senior investment advisors Kevin Keleher and Dan Compton – reportedly recognized parallels between two Midwest companies with a shared history of innovation.

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The Lewer Companies