People on the Move: Two seasoned professionals join Gifford Carr Insurance Group

Adam Kane (left) and Rick Chase recently joined Ottawa-based Gifford Carr Insurance Group. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Adam Kane (left) and Rick Chase recently joined Ottawa-based Gifford Carr Insurance Group. Photo by Caroline Phillips

When Rick Chase and Adam Kane were separately contacted by an Ottawa recruiter as ideal candidates for a couple of job positions, the men were flattered but not necessarily swayed.

“We get those calls, as we all do I’m sure, every now and again from people who say, ‘Come over here,’” said Chase, who wasn’t actively looking when Keynote Search came calling.

That it was Keynote, though, carried significant weight. Both men had heard positive things about the process honed by its co-founders, James and Donna Baker. As a result, they each agreed to be interviewed. 

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Once they learned more about Gifford Carr Insurance Group and the vision its president, Matthew Carr, had for the company, they realized the positions being offered were an excellent fit.

“I listened a bit and thought, ‘Hmm, that’s kind of compelling, that’s interesting,’” said Chase, who did feel his decade-long career at insurance giant Canada Life had probably reached a plateau. 

At Gifford Carr, he saw potential for growth, both personally and professionally. “The opportunity seemed to align with exactly where I wanted to go.”

Chase is currently in the process of assembling a team and bringing together some of the best in the industry to launch a new benefits and planning division in early 2024. “I’m excited, like really excited,” said Chase of his new role as vice-president.

Meanwhile, Kane is the new director of sales and marketing for Gifford Carr Insurance, which specializes in business and personal insurance. After 20 years of working in the financial and banking industry, he saw the potential to make change happen. 

“In large corporations, you have no say,” said Kane. “Here, we’re in direct line of sight to the president. We can collaborate with him at will.”

Carr is a third-generation insurance broker and an up-and-coming businessman. In 2021, he was recognized with a Forty Under 40 Award. “Matt’s (career) runway is longer than mine, or so I hope,” said Kane. “He’s raised in Ottawa, grounded in Ottawa; he’s here for the long haul.”

The history of Gifford Carr Insurance Group stretches back 75 years. It’s one of the “very few” family-owned insurance businesses that still exists nationally, let alone in Ottawa, said Chase, who found himself attracted to the company’s strong local roots when considering his job change.

“For me, anyway, it has a lot to do with perception and, probably, the reality of client service and who answers the phone when someone calls,” said Chase. “Really, whether it’s for your home, auto or life insurance, you want to know your people.”

Gifford Carr Insurance Group operates two offices in Ottawa: one on Lancaster Road in the east end and another currently under redevelopment on Terence Matthews Crescent in Kanata. It also has a presence in Burlington, Sudbury and North Bay, and employs an account executive in Belleville. It has 70 employees in total.

The company recently solidified its position as the largest independent brokerage in Sudbury and one of the fastest-growing brokerages in Ontario with its acquisition in early November of Sudbury-based W.W. Dopson Ltd. 

While the insurance industry can have a reputation for being cold and uncaring, the attitude of Chase is nothing short of passionate. Sure, an attractive employee benefit package helps with recruitment and retention for employers competing for the best talent but, more importantly, it can provide financial protection and security in a person’s greatest time of need, especially when a critical illness – such as cancer or heart disease — strikes, he said. 

“My conviction comes from these (insurance) plans providing something when somebody really is at their lowest low,” said Chase. “Not that a cheque makes it all better, but it definitely helps in the moment and allows you to go, ‘Ah, I can breathe, we can pay the bills, we have a bit of money coming in the account.’

“Insurance can bring positivity, and relief, during a terrible period in time.”

Also on the move around Ottawa:

Community leader, local entrepreneur and former elite triathlete Ian Fraser has been announced as the new CEO of The RA Centre, a not-for-profit multi-sport, recreation and leisure facility in Ottawa. The Ottawa-born-and-raised Fraser, who’s also an alumnus of Carleton University, was previously with Run Ottawa, where he served as executive director and race director since 2019. Fraser is also former owner and partner at Somersault Events, Human Power Performance and Cyclelogik. He’s volunteered on numerous non-profit association and organization boards, including Invest Ottawa. Fraser is anticipated to take the helm on Jan. 15, following a transition period.

Ottawa contemporary art gallery Studio Sixty Six has announced that Brendan A. de Montigny, formerly of PDA Projects, is taking over as the new director and owner, effective Jan. 1. After 10 years at the helm, gallery founder Carrie Colton has decided to retire. “I’m immensely proud of what the gallery has achieved so far,” Colton stated in a release, adding that she has “every confidence” in de Montigny’s ability to take the Glebe-based gallery “to new heights”. De Montigny has worked with Galerie LeRoyer, Galerie deBellefeuille, St-Laurent + Hill, and such cultural institutions as Canada Council for the Arts (Art Bank) and Artscape. Sam Loewen will continue in his role of creative director, while Ginny Stovel will move into the new position of director of operations.

Geoff Publow has been promoted to CEO at Myers Automotive Group, taking over from Cyril Leeder, who recently stepped down to return to the Ottawa Senators as president and CEO. Publow, who’s been with Myers since 2019, will lead the company into its next phase of growth and innovation. He previously had a long career with the Senators Sports & Entertainment Group, holding several senior executive positions, including vice-president of strategic development.

The Youth Services Bureau and CHEO have announced Joanne Bezzubetz is joining the organization as vice-president of integrated mental health and addictions care, a shared position between YSB and CHEO. The experienced health-care leader was previously at the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group for 10 years, serving as CEO for five years. She’s also worked on the West Coast, where she was responsible for the delivery of community services and mental health programs.

Kit Public Affairs has announced that Jennifer White has joined the female-led public affairs team as a partner, bringing with her 15 years’ experience in media relations, crisis and strategic communications. White most recently spent five years leading strategic and public affairs for Canopy Growth Corporation while serving as a board member on the United States Cannabis Council, the voice of America’s regulated cannabis industry.

Assent Inc., a solution provider in supply chain sustainability management, has announced its promotion of Andrew Holyome to chief information officer and the addition of Tanya Weston as general counsel. Prior to joining Assent in 2021, Holyoke held leadership roles at Payments Canada, IBM, MD Financial Management and Pythian. Weston was most recently associate general counsel and head of commercial services at Shopify and has also held senior legal roles at MDS Nordion and Halogen Software.

Recollective, the maker of an online community platform for qualitative research, has announced the appointment of seasoned sales executive Costa Constantakis to the role of chief revenue officer. Constantakis previously worked at Sun Microsystems (Oracle), Halogen Software, Saba Software and Kivuto Solutions.

CBC’s former chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge has joined spark* advocacy as  senior counsel. Earlier this fall, the company announced Alex Kohut, formerly with the Prime Minister’s Office, as the new senior director of spark*insights, its new research division. As well, Annette Goerner, former host of CTV Morning Live and news anchor on 580 CFRA, joined in September as the new director of public relations.

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