Time flies. It seems like yesterday when Ray Altieri excitedly met me outside the entrance to the December 1992 National Association of Public Adjusters Mid-Year Meeting. Ray is Italian and very passionate about things that matter to him–usually his family, work and the New York Yankees.

That morning, he was worried and upset. He asked if I could do something to help public adjusting in Florida, where a representative from Florida’s Department of Insurance indicated that public adjusting may be banned.

Ray ushered me into a meeting with a number of NAPIA’s Board of Directors. Apparently, a few non-member public adjusters, primarily from New York, had been arrested and were accused of staging additional damage to property damaged by Hurricane Andrew. This activity was wrong and criminal. It was done by a few bad apples, and we all know how that lyric plays out.

Following the meeting, I called a number of public adjusters who resided in Florida. We needed to organize. While there are hundreds of public adjusters in Florida today, the list of Florida resident public adjusters in late 1992 could not have been more than a hundred.

Doug Grose called and asked if he could help form the organization. With approval from Ray Altieri and Steve Lesser, we selected the name. Using NAPIA as a base, we named the organization the Florida Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (FAPIA). Doug Grose filed the corporate papers. A graphic artist in my firm, Carol Bowels, designed the logo used at the first meeting in Orlando, 1993.

I felt that FAPIA needed passionate and honest leadership. From dealings with Ray and those with Adjusters International, I knew Ray Altieri was honest, sincere and wanted to make public adjusting a life’s work that would make his wife and children proud. He was the obvious choice for FAPIA’s first President.

Steve Lesser and his family were paramount pioneers of public adjusting in Florida. There were other public adjusters considered as FAPIA’s First Vice President, especially Dick Tutwiler, who had integrity and character. But, because Ray Altieri and Steve Lesser were such good friends and Steve was from Miami, most felt Steve Lesser should take that position.

Last Friday night, Doug Grose, Steve Lesser and I were at NAPIA’s installation banquet. We were overjoyed as Ray Altieri was inducted into office as President.

Ray Altieri is passionately proud of what he does and bitterly hates anything that tarnishes the reputation of public adjusting. In his world, the pride of a job done to the best of an adjuster’s talent is what matters. He loves stories of public adjusters helping policyholders. His purpose is to serve policyholders, not to make as much money as possible. He loathes those who adjust unscrupulously, and his sharp Italian tongue lets others know exactly where they stand.

NAPIA has selected a leader it can be proud of. Role models are important in all professions. Like Dick Tutwiler and Steve Lesser, Ray Altieri is a role model for public adjusters throughout the country. I am happy for him and proud to be his friend.