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I, Harold David Anderson, Am Retiring From The Claims And Sales World, But Not From Work. I’m Moving On To Become A Full-Time Writer.
|GAB Downey Reunion At Luminarias Evokes Fond Memories And Co-Worker Affections|
By Lonce LaMon - December 9, 2010
The GAB office in Downey, California, was quaintly suburban back in the days of the late 1970s and the 1980s. I remember pulling my car up in the back parking lot of GAB in Downey and feeling like I was pulling up to the old hardware store from my childhood neighborhood of La Habra, California. The towns were very alike, both Southern California neighborhoods where people lived in modest three and four bedroom houses when most professional adjusters commuted to Downtown Los Angeles or the heart of Orange County for claims jobs at insurance carriers or third-party-administrators.
However, quaintly and uniquely, here was GAB’s (which stood for General Adjustment Bureau) workers’ compensation claims adjusting office residing in the midst of the Los Angeles county suburbs. Ma and Pa local restaurants abounded, possessing the looks and feels of down-home neighborhood hang-outs. Funky bars with pool tables were open by 9 am. And pin-ball machines were plentiful in the bowling alleys.
I can still to this moment feel the friendliness and the warmth of the ambiance inside that old GAB Downey claims department. Three martini lunches were the institution of the time. Professionals schmoozed with clients and employees often over two hour lunches. Not infrequently, professionals didn’t come back to the office from lunch. Those were the old-style down-home insurance industry days…
Those were the good ol’ days…
Well, old co-workers from GAB Downey gathered together this past Sunday, December 5th at the Luminarias restaurant in Monterey Park. The place was packed to the rafters with the Spanish language resonating throughout the air and reverberating off the walls. Kathy Garcia, today a workers’ compensation claims adjuster at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company in Glendale, California, gathered together some of the old gang from GAB Downey for a luncheon feast.
To my amazement, everybody looked young and vibrant. John Floyd was there, with his perpetually boyish good looks, who is today the senior partner of the large workers’ compensation and employment law firm of Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, with 13 offices in California and Nevada. John had done workers’ comp defense work for GAB Downey from 1981 to 1986, up until the time Mike Anderson, the claims manager, left the company. It wasn’t too many years after that, that the GAB Downey office closed completely.
John Floyd joked that his law firm at that time, which was called Morrow, Nistler, Whitehead and Floyd, he likes to call jestfully Morrow, Nistler, Whitehead but Floyd. John had left a law firm he worked for until 1981 to start his own firm with three other partners, and believing at the time that he would get business from Bierly and Associates, owned by Michael Bierly, to his surprise he instead got business from GAB Downey from claims manager, Mike Anderson.
Floyd, who today resides in Westlake Village, California, stated that he used to drive anywhere in the state of California in order to do legal defense work. He related that his jingle was, “Near any freeway close to any Board.”
David Rodriguez, owned a copy service, and did business with Mike Anderson and GAB Downey. “Mike Anderson was the beginning of my career,” David acknowledged. David was at the luncheon looking handsome with his friendly personality as had always been his reputation.
He started out as a kid working for his uncle, Al Sanchez, who had AJ Sanchez Photocopy Services, and would deliver documents to Michael Bierly’s Bierly & Associates in Pasadena. It was there he met Michelle Alvarez, who was an adjuster at Bierly & Associates. Later, Michelle went to GAB in Downey, and there she introduced David to Mike Anderson.
David Rodriguez today lives in Munich, Germany and teaches English there at a German school. He left the photocopy business in 2005. Michelle Alvarez today works part-time for applicants’ firms and part-time for Doug Holmes, who was a defense attorney in the 1980s and who also did defense work for Mike Anderson at GAB Downey.
Today Douglas Holmes is the president of United Contractors Insurance Company. He writes mostly liability policies and owns with a partner the general managing agency side of the business.
Carla Galvez, who today is a senior workers’ compensation claims adjuster at Adminsure, a TPA, in Diamond Bar, California, worked at GAB Downey in the 1980s. She was part of the old gang, and like many of the other alumni, didn’t look old enough. Another veteran, Shirley Manalang, definitely didn’t look old enough to have worked at GAB Downey in the late 70s or 80s. I thought she was somebody’s daughter. Today Shirley is a claims examiner at GAB-Robins in Ontario, which is now as a consequence of a very recent purchase, Gallagher Bassett. She started out as a file clerk at GAB Downey and worked her way up through the ranks.
Joan Luison worked at GAB Downey from 1979 until it closed, but then stayed with GAB and worked in the Brea office and then the Ontario office when it was by then GAB Robins. She left in 1997. Joan worked her way up from mail clerk to branch secretay to claims assistant. Joan looks about 50 years old but told Kathy Garcia she is now 70.
Kathy Garcia brought Val Kubiak along to the luncheon. Val never worked for GAB Downey but simply came along with Kathy for the fun. Val Kubiak is today a workers’ compensation claims supervisor at Intercare Insurance Services in Pasadena.
Tyrone Bell, who was a well established GAB Downey member of the old claims department, today works for John Floyd’s law firm, Floyd, Skeren & Kelly out of the firm’s Pasadena office. Tyrone is a hearing representative. He displayed an authentic meld of the old and the new by telling how his granddaughter found him recently on Facebook. He also showed the new technology that in no way existed in the 1980s by showing pictures on his I-Phone of his granddaughter, and also of his late son, William, who was accidently killed in an accident involving a gun 22 years ago. I remembered that tragic incident well.
The hope of the old GAB Downey clan now is to get together with Mike Anderson before he retires next year. He is planning to move out of California, and his old crew wants to catch him before he moves. Anderson was truly the man of the hour, and everyone was so hoping to see him. However, he could not attend last Sunday’s luncheon because of a family obligation.
It is clear from the sentiments of this group that Mike Anderson was loved by all. He was a wonderful manager, somebody said. And nostalgically everybody celebrated the group he put together with a long lunch of more than two hours where the waiters perpetually poured Mimosas.
Readers may write to writer Lonce LaMon at email@example.com