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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
The Lewer Companies are pleased to announce that consultant Dan Compton has joined Lewer Financial Advisors, LLC (LFA) as a producer and investment advisor, effective January 1, 2013.
In 1985, Compton became Charles Schwab & Company’s first financial advisor in the United States. He is known for his strong macro-economic view and has worked closely with other professionals in the coordination of client financial planning, including CPAs and attorneys.
Since 1985, Compton has served clients as president and owner of Professional Asset Management, Inc., a company based in Overland Park, Kansas. His company provides financial planning services to its clients by rendering advice on tax planning, risk management, investments, insurance, educational funding, retirement planning, Medicaid, long-term care, employee benefits, estate planning, estate liquidity, minimization of taxes and probate costs, cash flow analysis, financing options, and charitable donations.
Compton is a 1977 graduate of the University of Missouri – Kansas City and received certification from the College for Financial Planning (CFP) in 1985. His career path has included a number of seminars and presentations for Charles Schwab & Company, the CPA firm, Ken Woodward & Associates, and the Kansas Bar Association. His investment strategies have been published by a number of industry magazines including Financial Planning Magazine.
“The Lewer Companies’ greatest strengths are longevity and dependability,” said Compton, whose new goal is to help LFA clients “create enough money to last a lifetime.”
Members of the Lewer team attended the Insight 2013 Shaw convention, January 21 – 23, at Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
The Insight 2013 expo was the most productive Shaw convention Lewer has attended since onboarding the flooring company as a client nearly 15 years ago, according to Lewer senior investment advisor, Kevin Keleher. “Shaw plans a conference every other year and the 2013 show was the best to date,” said Keleher. “We have worked with these dealers through good times and bad – through housing booms and the 2008 recession. It’s great to see the industry rebound.”
At this year’s convention, The Lewer Companies rolled out its new financial products, including a 401(k) plan. After returning from his first Shaw convention, new Lewer senior vice president Greg Addison commented that he was impressed with Shaw’s commitment to business development during the conference. “I have never seen any other company commit the total number of dollars and resources to a dealer conference, including the software industry,” said Addison. “Dealers come and take care of business.”
Lewer Life Insurance Company is pleased to announce the promotion of staff accountant Monika Gray to the position of assistant controller, effective February 1, 2013.
Gray’s career at Lewer has been eventful, both personally and professionally. Professional highlights include her receipt of the 2010 “Employee of the Year” award. Personal highlights include the successful Lewer Charitable Fund (LCF) fundraiser which she volunteered to captain in 2012. Born in Poland, she became a United States citizen in 2011.
Her reputation as a key team member at Lewer originated early in her career when she was named “Innovator of the Year” in 2008, for improvements she implemented in accounting procedures.
On her fifth anniversary with the company last year, Gray commented that one of the most significant changes she has witnessed since joining the team is the change to the new Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting system, which she counts among the biggest breakthroughs in her department since joining the team. “I am growing as the company grows,” she stated.
The Lewer Agency, Inc. is pleased to announce that Jody Miller has joined the Agency as a commercial benefits lines account manager, effective February 25, 2013. Miller, a seasoned employee benefits specialist, worked for a number of area firms, including WageWorks in Kansas City. While at WageWorks, she was responsible for the company’s 14-state Midwest territory and worked with brokers and employer groups.
Miller’s successful account management and sales career was also developed through her employment with Meritain Health, where she worked as a Regional Vice President of Sales and Client Relationship Manager.
Prior to Lewer, Miller also worked as an account executive at the Bukaty Companies, where she was awarded a “Top Producer of the Quarter” award in 2005. She was also an account executive at Coventry Health Care where she was honored with the company’s “Account Manager of the Year” award in 2001.
Miller attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, where she earned a BS degree in Communications and Human Relations. She is licensed to sell Life and Health insurance in the state of Kansas and has earned the CEBS I and II certifications. She is a member of the Employee Benefit Professional Association.