Client Spotlight: Erie-LaSalle Body Shop

Bob Gottfred knows all about iconic locations. Erie-LaSalle Body Shop was, for years, located (appropriately enough) at the corner of Erie and LaSalle Streets in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, until the shop moved in November 2016 to the corner of Milwaukee and Huron in Chicago’s River West neighborhood. But you won’t see Gottfred or his sons, Jim and Jay (who are General Managers and Principals in the business) changing the name because there is too much equity in the brand. Coming up with another name just won’t do the business justice. No matter where the company expands, it will always be known as Erie-LaSalle Body Shop—and that suits the Gottfreds just fine.

Since 1934, the family’s body shop has been a Chicago institution. Gottfred’s company is the longest continuously-owned auto body repair shop in Illinois—where we have seen our share of dents, dings, scratches and wrecks. The Company has expanded its service area by moving into Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, and it continues to have one of the strongest reputations in the auto repair business.

Perhaps that is why Gottfred utilizes Alper Services for the Company’s health insurance. “We have been working with Alper Services for more than three years now,” Gottfred explained. “Gregg Elstien came highly recommended to us, and we needed to see what he was all about. He is a very hands-on professional—sort of like we are.”

“We have a lot of different health insurance needs, and we were looking to work with a smaller agency as opposed to one of the larger shops. We ask our Alper representatives about the ever-changing healthcare laws and how they will affect our coverage. While nothing is certain yet, it’s nice to know I can ask them without getting rerouted to another department or team of professionals. There is something about personalized service and really knowing your clients that makes a difference to your customer base.”

Elstien makes sure that Gottfred and his two sons know that Alper has his company’s back. Gottfred mentioned that he showed interest in Alper’s Cybersecurity seminars because of the customer information and data it has on-site.

“You don’t think a body shop has data concerns, but we know more about our clients than people give us credit for,” he said.

Alper Services proves it has its Clients’ best interest at heart, no matter what policies they service—or what name is hanging on the shingle outside.

Back-To-Back—Alper Named As A “Best Practices” Agency In 2017

When you do something good, people take notice. When you do it REALLY well, people recognize you again and again.

Such is the case with Alper Services being named to an elite group of independent insurance agencies around the United States participating in the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America “Best Practices” Study Group.

For the second consecutive year, Alper Services was recognized for this designation. There are some 30,000 independent agencies throughout the U.S., more than 1,500 were nominated by a state association and/or an insurer and only 242 were awarded the Best Practices recognition. Nominations and evaluations were based upon outstanding customer retention, growth, stability and financial management.

The Best Practices Study was initiated in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The annual study of leading independent insurance agencies, which is conducted by Reagan Consulting of Atlanta, Ga., documents the business practices of these high performance agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

“Being named by one of the top insurance industry organizations for the second year in a row shows that we have been doing more than a few things right since Howie Alper started things here,” noted David Macknin, President & CEO of Alper Services. “Certainly, we thank our entire Team for helping us get to this point, but the reality of the situation is that we cannot do what we do without Clients.”

So on behalf of everyone at Alper Services, THANK YOU!

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Rates Increase


Excerpt from the Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, LLC’s blog:

Illinois Workers’ Compensation (WC) rates jump again. Hopefully it’s a sign of a growing economy— even though rates continued to increase almost every cycle.  Since the 1980’s, the Illinois WC Act provides a formula which effectively insures no matter how poor the Illinois economy is doing WC rates continue to climb.

Pay attention to the fact that the Illinois WC statutory maximum Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rate is $775.18. However, this rate is only through June 30, 2017 and the new max PPD will be published in January 2018. When it will be published in January 2018, this rate will change retroactively from July 1, 2017 forward. If you don’t make the change, your reserves will be incorrect.

Click here for a link to the Illinois WC rate chart. If you have questions regarding this, please contact Alper’s WC Claims Specialist, Cathy Higuera, at or 312-654-4252. To read the full article by Keefe, Campbell, Biery & Associates, click here.


Wellness Is Dead, Part II

Brian Donnelly, VP, Health & Benefits Practice Leader and Ian Shea, CEO, I M Human. 

Supporting mental and emotional well-being is one of the largest growing trends of our time. The market for mental and emotional well-being support, referred to as “Transformational Technology,” has estimates for consumer demand in the hundreds of billions.1

Google’s Head of Personal Growth and Founder of the “Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute” Chade-Meng Tang recently stated, “Within companies there is a growing awareness of the importance of employees “emotional itness”, mirroring the same journey of acceptance that physical fitness exercise took in the last century.”2

Yet mass adoption and understanding are not at the levels that reflect these trends. This is understandable when looking at the adoption curve of physical fitness after WWII and the adoption curve of nutritional fitness throughout the 80s and 90s. Personal growth and self-care practices take time to grab hold as initially people are fearful and skeptical of the benefits.

While employers recognize that well-being in the workplace is now more important than ever, considering well-being initiatives for your company can be overwhelming. There is ample research highlighting that while developing talent skills is important, developing well-being is increasingly being intertwined into the employee development offering. Research exists highlighting the growing recognition of the interrelationships between talent development and individual well-being in both the employer experience and overall workplace planning.3

The following framework around initiatives and engagement can be useful to small or large organizations interested in pursuing a well-being strategy.

  1. Guidance, Framing & Education. Consider working with an expert who has the ability to communicate a deep understanding of well-being: customizing it for your company; explaining why it is important and how best to deliver the message with relevant supporting content, research, expert input and societal trends in a manner that is real and relatable.
  2. Pacing. Adoption will take time. Initial focus should be on listening, educating and building awareness. Take time to understand what is right for your company’s culture; understand the needs and obstacles that exist and set a roll-out plan best suited for your environment.
  3. Creativity, Curation & Excitement. Bring in experts and thought leaders to help ground topics, curate group events, exercises and lectures based on specific needs and interest, package resources and information in a relevant way; and understand what stimulates excitement and triggers boredom.
  4. Needs Assessment, Data & Success Metrics. Perform needs assessment through surveys, one-on-one and group discussions highlighting where, how and in what ways mental and emotional well-being support is most useful. Set your goals and objectives and gather data (no matter how basic) as it will help build confidence and trust in the process.
  5. Champions & Early Adopters. Leadership and stakeholder buy-in will play a crucial role in de-stigmatizing initiatives and spur adoption. Who within your company has an established practice, a voice that people gravitate towards or a leadership position of influence? Empower them to lead, share their stories and be a part of the creative process.
  6. Keep Employees Engaged and Informed. Summarize data and findings and share them often. Continue to find creative ways to keep employees educated and informed and focus on creating a culture that values personal growth as more and more employees require that of their employers.

Building awareness and implementing well-being initiatives in your company is a process that takes time, but you’re not alone. Major sports teams, Fortune 500 companies, leading institutions and non-profits are all dedicating significant resources in the form of time and capital towards understanding and implementing these initiatives as the returns are significant. Price Waterhouse Coopers estimates that for every $1.00 spent on creating a mentally and emotionally healthy workplace, companies can recoup $2.30 in productivity.4

When you make well-being a priority, you can achieve a benefit and change in company culture that is readily available, improving the bottom line and more importantly the lives of your employees and their families throughout your organization. ●

This is the second article in a two part series on WellBeing in the workplace. Part one can be seen here.

I M Human works with organizations thinking through how to support the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being needs of their employees and gain a deeper understanding of this space and why it is important. Please contact for more information.

1 Techcrunch – Science and technology will make mental and emotional wellbeing scalable, accessible, and cheap – Nichol Bradford – October 17, 2016
2The Guardian – Google’s head of mindfulness: ‘goodness is good for business’ – Jo Confino – May 14, 2014
3Deloitte University Press – Unlocking human potential – February 2017
4 Price Waterhouse Cooper – Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace – May 2014

Alper’s All-Star Summer Intern Morghan Radcliffe

This summer is Alper’s fifth year as a partner with the Development School For Youth’s All-Stars Project. We are fortunate to welcome Morghan Radcliffe to the Alper Team. This student council member, National Honor Society and straight A student will enter her senior year at Morgan Park High School. The coming school year will keep Morghan busy with the cheerleading team and her duties as manager of the baseball team as well as maintaining her number four ranking in a class of 299 seniors.

In the meantime, Morghan is spending her first four weeks working in Alper’s Claims Management division where she is learning the claims reporting process and the various ways in which we advocate on behalf of our Clients. The second half of her internship will take place in Alper’s Property and Casualty division. Morghan will work on identifying SIC codes for Alper’s Client base to help us better analyze data for optimal placements and learn the process of setting up new certificate holders for Clients in our Agency Management System.

We’re thrilled to work with such a budding All-Star this summer and wish Morghan the best in her senior year.

June Is National Safety Month


Did you know at least 540 US workers are injured hourly on the job? To call awareness to National Safety Month we’re featuring a great infographic from the National Safety Council drawing attention to workplace injuries.

How does your workplace stack up? Alper has the resources to safeguard your environment and educate and train your employees on safety procedures that will reduce the number of claims that occur on site as well as their severity. For more information on how your organization can  improve safety and drive down the long-term cost of insurance, please contact our Director of Claims Management Services Darrell Mathis at or 312-654-4254.

Workplace Injuries By The Number


Client Spotlight: The Indak Group


If you listen to Martin Cobb, CEO of The Indak Group, some of his affection towards Alper Services comes from the most unlikely of places.

“My uncle, Russell Cobb, played tennis with Howie [Alper] back in the early days of the business,” Cobb explained. When asked who won those matches, Cobb thought that Howie might have let Russell win because he was the Client. And Cobb’s Northbrook, Illinois-based business is still a Client of Alper Services today.

Initially founded in the 1940s to provide switches and resistors for car heaters, Indak later moved into other automotive, truck and tractor controls—before the days of touch-screen instrument panels in today’s cars. The Indak Group evolved into assembling a wide variety of switches and electronics for the automotive and medical equipment industries, plus specializing in LED lighting for automotive (interior and exterior) and commercial buildings (indoor and outdoor). Today, Indak has five manufacturing plants in Illinois, Wisconsin and Georgia, and Alper Services works with all five locations.

As a second-generation owner, Martin Cobb is an extension of his father, Jesse, who helped establish the business as one of the leaders in its field. And it is that sort of extension that dovetails nicely into why Indak has been a Client of Alper for so long.

“Alper Services provides our team with friendly service and a quick response whenever someone here needs them,” Martin Cobb noted recently. “Honestly, we don’t have a good comparison about what sets them apart from other insurance brokers because they have been with us for so long. Some things are best left untouched.”

Today, the Alper Services Team headed by Chris Breck oversees all of Indak’s property and casualty insurance, as well as its workers’ compensation issues.

“Chris Breck is always around when our team needs help,” Cobb explained. “How many other partners of a company can say that?” And as far as we know, Martin has not challenged Chris to a game of tennis, but we have a feeling we know who will win!


Staying North On The Balance Sheet Border

Staying North of the Balance Sheet Border

By Gary Kirshenbaum, VP, Director of Alper Global Trade Risk Management

What impact will a border adjustment tax have on your business? There’s a lot of uncertainty in the air this spring. We’re not referring to whether or not the Cubs can repeat their World Series win. Rather, we’re talking about President Trump’s proposed changes to international trade and how businesses around the nation might be affected. Seemingly every media outlet in the United States has predicted how these policies will change international business, but nobody really knows anything yet. A business conducting importing or exporting activities can expect to see some impact on their bottom line. The changes could be negligible or they could create a level of financial distress they may not recover from. Trade credit insurance could be the warning siren that can help a company avoid catastrophe.

What If…
Suppose President Trump does enact a 20% tax increase on imported goods as has been reported. Some costs may be passed to customers or some may be mitigated by a stronger dollar and subsequently lower cost imports. If you own a business conducting commerce overseas, will the tax  increase affect the buying patterns of your customers or your customers’ customers? For a company already working on thin margins or one
that is highly leveraged, this could be what puts them into a position to default on their bills (or worse, close their doors). Continue reading