Crop Insurance Today Second Quarter 2019 - 37

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Jim Crist Retires
After 37 Years with NCIS
Just over 37 years ago, on Monday, November
9, 1981, Jim Crist walked through the door of the
7th-floor office of the Crop Hail Insurance Actuarial Association (CHIAA) at 207 West Jackson
Boulevard in Chicago. Ronald Regan occupied
the White House, the Soviet Union had not yet
collapsed, the first desktop "personal computer"
intended for business use would not be released by
IBM for three or four more years, cell phones and
email were nonexistent, and this was Jim's first day
of employment at CHIAA (a predecessor to NCIS).
In 1981, E. Ray Fosse was CHIAA's Manager
and Lloyd Lindstrom its Assistant Manager. The
largest CHIAA member (based on premium volume) was Old Republic Insurance Company, and
the crop insurance industry was gearing up to respond to the recently passed Federal Crop Insurance Act of 1980.
When he settled into his cubicle, Jim started
working with Lloyd to translate government insurance policies and provisions into English. After
final editing, master copies would be electronically typeset on a CompuGraphic phototypesetting
machine. The files would then be transferred to
photosensitive paper, which was run through a
wet chemical developing process, and dried on
a hot steel-drum drier. A far cry from Microsoft
Word and laser printer technology used today.
During his early years at CHIAA, Jim also assisted with some of the administrative functions of
the Association. He discovered that he had a liking
for accounting and began a course of study in business and accounting at DePaul University. The first
desktop computers intended for business became
available in the mid-1980's. While primitive by today's standards, Jim saw the potential they offered
for accounting and other administrative functions
and embraced their use. He transferred the Association's manual accounting records to a computer-based system and created a database system to
manage the company's many mailing lists.

When CHIAA moved to the Kansas City area
in 1988, Jim and his family moved with it. By
this time, the Association had increased its staff
of crop insurance professionals, allowing Jim to
focus exclusively on administrative functions. He
managed two office relocations and helped shepherd the company's printing activities into the
electronic age.
Early on, Jim pushed to move the paper MPCI
actuarial documents to Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF). NCIS began distributing
actuarials, and most other NCIS documents, in
electronic format through email, CD-Rom, or
via Internet download. This new system not only
shortened delivery time, it also reduced printing
requirements by millions of pages per year, saving NCIS and its members thousands of dollars
annually.
"Jim always had an awareness and an appreciation for the needs of both the staff and members of
NCIS," said Tom Zacharias, President. "Throughout his career at NCIS, he always worked to improve the organization."
In more recent years, Jim's involvement has
focused on implementing a document, processing
and archiving system, managing the termination
of the NCIS defined benefit pension plan (a necessary action that eliminated millions of dollars of
pension liability for NCIS' member companies,
while maintaining benefits for current and future
retirees), and assisting with a reorganization of the
staffing structure of NCIS to make it more streamlined and responsive to members.
Jim retired from National Crop Insurance
Services on March 29, 2019. He wore many
hats during his long tenure, including his last
as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. A lot
has changed in the 37 years Jim was with NCIS:
the industry, agriculture, business practices, and,
of course, technology. Through it all, Jim was a
constant source of encouragement to those he su-

Happy

pervised and his fellow employees. He was quick
to offer help in training people in new computer technology or software systems with patience
and kindness. Jim never shied away from a challenge and always seemed to find the best solution
to any problem he or any other staff member
encountered.
NCIS congratulates Jim on his retirement
and thanks him for his many years of dedicated
service, not just to the Association, but to every
company member, crop insurance agent, and
loss adjuster it serves. This Association is much
stronger because of Jim's strong work ethic and
commitment.
"I will always appreciate his dedication to the
organization and his positive and caring attitude
that he lives everyday in our office environment,"
said Tom. "Jim will be missed, but we are very
happy for him and his family."
Jim plans to spend his time with his family, especially his new granddaughter, serving his
community and church in a volunteer capacity,
traveling, reading, and continuing his education
through language and music study.
CROPINSURANCE TODAY®

37


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Crop Insurance Today Second Quarter 2019

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Crop Insurance Today Second Quarter 2019 - Cover3
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