August 18, 2020 by David Gambrill
Canadian P&C insurance industry icon J.R. (Bob) Tisdale is stepping down today as president and chief operating officer of Pembridge and Pafco insurance companies in Canada, coinciding with his 40-year work anniversary.
Allstate Insurance Company of Canada first announced his retirement in August 2019.
“In my 42 years in the industry, I have seen some incredible changes,” Tisdale wrote in a LinkedIn post commemorating the occasion. “It seems every time our industry is challenged with something new we adapt and provide the products and services necessary to protect people’s financial well-being. I also met some incredible people along the way. Too many to mention everyone but a few really stand out.”
In particular, Tisdale thanked his spouse Christine, “who I met in the industry and has supported my journey for over 35 years. This support allowed me to complete all of my post-secondary schooling while working full-time. It also allowed us to move to another country and help build Pembridge and Pafco into significant players in the Canadian market.”
Allstate acquired Pafco Insurance Company in 1998. At the time, Tisdale was vice president of sales at Pafco, overseeing national broker distribution channel sales.
Allstate in January 2000 officially launched Pembridge — where Tisdale was president and chief operating officer from January 1997 to September 1998 — as a personal lines market dedicated to the broker channel. Four years later, Allstate re-launched Pafco as a company focused on non-standard automobile risks. Late in 2019, the two companies combined exceeded a half billion dollars in premium revenue.
“Since Bob began in the insurance industry in 1978 – fresh out of high school – his drive, determination and dedication to his team has helped to distinguish himself within the industry,” Ryan Michel, president and CEO at Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, said in a public statement announcing Tisdale’s retirement. “These traits allowed him to quickly progress into more senior roles that will leave quite a legacy. He has been integral to the growth of Pembridge and to the development of the strong cohort of business leaders within the Pembridge and Pafco team.”
Tisdale got his first job in insurance as an auto rating clerk at Liberty Mutual. A strong advocate of education, he took numerous Business Administrative Studies courses at York University and earned an MBA at Edinburgh Business School, all while working full-time. He has several industry and other designations, including the Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP), Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP), Canadian Risk Manager (CRM), and Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D) designations.
Tisdale has taken on many industry leadership roles, including chairman of the board of directors of the Facility Association, president of the Insurance Institute of Ontario, chairman of the board of governors of the Insurance Institute of Canada, chairman of the CIP Society (serving the Institute’s graduates), and as a member of various Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) committees.
In his LinkedIn post, Tisdale thanked several people for helping him in his rise through the industry’s ranks.
He offered a special mention to Doug McIntyre, who was a key contributor to the growth of Echelon Financial Holdings Inc. in Canada. McIntryre, Echelon’s chief executive in the early 2000s, “gave me my first real opportunity and helped guide my early to mid-career progression,” Tisdale said.
He also thanked Peter Hohman, president and CEO of The Insurance Institute of Canada, “who allowed me to play a significant role at the Insurance Institute; education being something I am passionate about.”
Last year, when Tisdale first announced his retirement, he said he planned to “remain active in business and will be looking for board and other opportunities that will allow me to provide strategic thinking oversight and governance to organizations while maintaining some personal flexibility in my life.”
Accolades poured in from P&C industry leaders who posted well-wishes on Tisdale’s LinkedIn account.
“Congratulations Bob!” said Lynn Oldfield, president and CEO of AIG Canada. “Always loved and shared your passion for this great industry! Be well and enjoy.”
Longtime senior risk and claims executive Glenn Gibson, board chairman at the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corporation (PACICC) and currently vice chairman of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football team, said: “Well done my friend. Not many know the early days of your career. I was fortunate to hear your story and admire your journey on both a personal and business level.”
Also offering his good wishes was Paul Martin, president and chief operating officer at KRGInsure and RRJ Insurance Grouop Limited, as well as a past board member of the Insurance Institute of Ontario. “You have made an incredible difference to the insurance industry,” he posted to Tisdale’s LinkedIn account. “You should be very proud.”