Welcome to the Second  Edition of the Charter Partner's Quarterly Newsletter!

Associated Fire Protection Turns 70 with Third Generation Family Member, Brett Straten, at Helm

Long-time Life Safety Alliance (LSA) member and CPIC captive owner, Associated Fire Protection (AFP), is celebrating their 70th year in business.  No easy feat, we asked President Brett Straten, a few questions including his thoughts on contributing success factors, current state of affairs as well as his outlook for the future of the business.  He offered the following:

"Less than 12% of all companies are able to reach the 3rd generation of ownership. I am very proud of all the members of this organization both past and present that helped us reach our 70th anniversary.   We were able to reach this milestone due three reasons: 1) our long-term outlook on relationships with customers, vendors and employees 2) our ability to embrace and adapt to change 3) our technical skills."

"We look forward to what is turning out to be another record year for the company.  We have several strategic initiatives that we are working on in 2017. A major focus is the technology that drives our business. We have just released a new mobile app in attempt to remove paper and inefficiency from our business process. We have put in place a strategic hiring plan to find the personnel to support our growth. Lastly, we are in the search of new headquarters."

"Over the next 10 years, I expect our business to continue to grow and change at a higher rate than the previous 10 years. Technology will continue to have a huge impact on our company. A key challenge will be finding the right individuals to join our team, who fit our culture and share our mission and passion for creating safe environments for our customers and community."

Home-based in Paterson, NJ, the company has offices in New York, Manalapan, NJ, Williamstown, NJ and Salt Lake City, UT.  

The future is certainly bright for Associated Fire Protection and we wish them another 70 years of success!   Congrats, Brett!

High-Tech Solutions Designed to Keep Highway Workers Safe

Doug Dolinar, President of Guidemark, Inc. in Souderton, cares deeply about the safety of his employees. Having workers that work on high-speed highways, Doug has had many sleepless nights worrying about them.

Doug's employees work alongside and very often in the middle of moving traffic marking roads all-across Pennsylvania. Doug, with a background in mechanical engineering, began to think of a way to reduce or even eliminate the inherent hazards of the work and keep his people out of harm's way. In 2010, through innovative and out-of-the-box thinking, Doug started to think it was possible to keep them safe by tapping into technological advances in GPS.  Two years later, he created Limntech Scientific with Professor William Haller from Lehigh University. 

Together, he and Haller faced and overcame significant technical and design hurdles. Challenges included designing an electronic control system robust enough to withstand heavy electrical interference and getting reliable functionality in an operating temperature range of 0° to 115° Fahrenheit. Limntech Scientific produced the Lifemark 75, which enables the roadway striping team to do layout and pre-marking work without leaving the safety of their truck. With real time kinematics, GPS and laser line technology in play, Lifemark 75 can perform the pre-marking processes with a precision of +/- 1 in. This pre-marking process provides an excellent base for painting the traffic lines.

Additionally, Limntech Scientific has developed a solution designed specifically for road marking inspection and archival; it's called Lifemark 200. This product provides a tool for governmental agencies and engineering firms to record and locate road marks, as well as perform quality control tasks at highway traffic speeds. It combines real time kinematics, GPS and machine vision technologies.

In late 2017, Limntech Scientific will roll-out the Lifemark 300. This product will enable to the paint truck driver to restripe existing markings on his own, vs. two people doing the job. This will be the very first machine to be equipped with the patented PIXEL-Smart technology, based on machine imaging. The bulk of the work is automated: the system precisely positions the line striping paint carriage before dispensing traffic paint and reflective glass beads over the pre-existing markings. Trucks equipped with these technologies allow the work to be completed much faster than traditional methods. According to Doug, 75% of the time it takes to layout a road is saved, the cost savings are substantial.

Doug is not only a long-time owner in the CPIC captive, he also serves on the Board of Directors.

Technology Adds and Distracts From Safety
The number of motor vehicle deaths in 2016 totaled 40,200; this is the first time the annual fatality rate reached 40,000 since 2007. This is up 7% from 2015 and 14% from 2014. In addition, there were well over 1,000 accidents a day involving distracted driving.
There is no need to include a rant about the perils of distracted driving, most everyone at this point intellectually understands the risk.  It does not appear that additional fines and changes in legal system has had much impact to date and continued escalation in accidents and fatalities seems very likely, sadly.
Thanks to technological advancements, cars continue to get safer, and in many ways, easier to drive. These advances have had a hand in reducing the fatalities and injuries over the last several decades. So why the sudden change in trajectory after years of improvement? In fairness, some of the increase can be attributed to an almost 3% increase in annual miles traveled in recent years.
Technology has created comfortable cars that can easily be driven at high speeds, regardless of the experience or competence of the driver. This has created overconfidence allowing a diminished need to focus on the fundamental awareness and engagement of driving.  Safety technologies like sensors, antilock brakes, airbags, active radar, LED lighting, traction control and impact zones make cars very safe.
At the same time, technology has initiated more potentially distracting equipment in vehicles: complex dashboards, large screen monitors (providing entertainment options), customization of controls, GPS and your car can now even become a mobile hotspot for Wi-Fi.  Further, we can easily communicate via phone, text and email, even mobile videoconferencing is available.
Not only are incidents from distracted driving on the rise, so is litigation and the cost to repair these technologically-advanced vehicles.  Not surprising, auto insurance premiums are also on the rise and the insurance industry finger is pointed squarely at distracted driving.
While we continue to struggle with the advancement and challenge of adapting to new technologies, it is likely our inability to solve this distraction problem that will more quickly usher in the most significant technological change since the internet, the self-driving car.
In this time of additional distractions, it is more important than ever to create a company culture of awareness. New technology will continue to help and challenge us, but until self-driving cars (and trucks) become our new normal, nothing will be more important than a focused and engaged driver. 

Vermont Captive 
Legislation Amended

Effective May 1, 2017, Vermont's captive insurance statutes were amended to reflect lessons learned in practice or implementation of the laws, as well as a series of new ideas aimed at enhancing Vermont's position among increasingly competitive captive domiciles.
Among the enhancements:
  • Vermont will now entertain applications for agency captive insurance companies, albeit with a few Vermont-specific requirements.
  • Vermont's law allowing pure, sponsored or industrial insured captives to apply for a certificate of dormancy is now expanded to allow any captive insurance company to apply for such dormant status.
  • A Vermont captive may now use statutory accounting principles or international financial reporting standards in its annual report without first receiving permission from the Commissioner.
  • Protected cells that choose to incorporate are now only required to have "protected cell" or "IC" in their names and not the traditional corporate naming conventions in addition thereto.
  • Governance standards for risk retention groups have been further tweaked to provide relief from auditor partner rotation requirements, including the ability to request a waiver from such requirements subject to certain conditions.
The Legislature and Governor also responded to industry suggestions to try to make Vermont an even more attractive domicile for new captives, particularly for some of the smaller programs. The Legislature is considering another bill which revises and expands Vermont's premium tax credit for new captive formations. The amendment increases the existing $7,500 first year tax credit for new formations to $10,000 over the first two years. The final bill, H.516, has yet to be signed into law by the Governor though that is expected to occur in the coming days. If so, the revised credit will take effect July 1 and apply to new formations on or after January 1, 2017.

We thank our captive attorney firm Primmer, Piper, Eggleston & Cramer for contributing this information for our members.

Charter Partners USA, Inc. | 610-438-3535 | www.charterpartners.com