As many of you are aware, OCI has been going through some rough waters over the last six months because of how some in the industry have chosen to react to markets. It is hard for a small business to survive when given severe changes to its operating revenues. Although I feel that OCI has weathered the brunt of the storm and is coming out of the adversity even stronger than it was before, it has really opened my eyes to how people choose to react. There are those who have not only stood firm and been of great assistance, but others who have stepped forward and been of great help. But what has really been interesting is those, who I considered to be great business partners, and yes, friends, who because of one reason or another, sort of distanced themselves from OCI. Maybe it is fear of the unknown or perhaps, OCI was not doing the same excellent job as it had in the past, but these individuals seemed to slink away and didn’t explain why. It has been said that you only realize who your true friends are when adversity strikes. I read a great quote but don’t know the author, “true friendship isn’t about being there when it’s convenient; it’s about being there when it’s not.” I have heard people who are hit by adversity such as an illness and all of a sudden, their “friends” tend to avoid them. I kind of got the same feeling from some that I had always considered friends. I don’t want to dwell on them because there were many more that I got a chance to find were willing to stand with OCI and help us through these trials. We will definitely not forget who has worked with us and found ways to assist us. With everything happening in the industry today, it is key that you know who is there to help you, and those that may be out to harm you. Relationships are important, more now than ever. Who do you have watching your back?

One of the things that OCI has done to diversify is to put a much higher emphasis on other employee benefits and voluntary products. We have a contest going for producers to escape to a warm tropical destination based on production of those products. This has really excited some of our producers because they have attended past events and they are aware of how much fun these trips are. I hope we have a good group going with us and that you are one of the qualifiers. If you didn’t sign up or were not aware of the contest, call me and I will see what I can do about getting you eligible. See, that is what friends do. They look for ways to help. Thanks to all our loyal producers and especially the ones that have our backs. Remember, a true friend will only stab you in the front.