Well Wishes to Wayne
Interviewed by Rebecca Davis
Wayne Ezekiel has worn many hats over the years at AA Munro. He started off doing strategic planning and maximized his potential in marketing, operations and frontline roles. As our former president and current culture champion, he’s experienced it all. And at the end of this month, on his 65th birthday, he’ll be officially retiring.
He joined the company in 1992, 10 years after he married his wife Donna. It truly was a family affair: Donna’s uncle was Andrew Alcorn—the namesake of AA Munro—and her mom worked with him as well as her cousins John and Rodney (the latter our current VP of Operations).
I sat down with Wayne to reflect on his time with us before he sets out on his next adventure.
Looking back over three decades, what sticks out as the most enjoyable aspects of your work at AA Munro?
Working with Harley. He’s been a mentor, coach and friend from the get-go, and I really enjoyed getting the chance to work together. Back when we were a smaller company on the crest of taking off, Harley and I put in a lot of time together to plan and meet our goals, and I think that set a good foundation of camaraderie for us.
Today, it’s all about engaging with our coworkers and getting to know them past their job title—learning about their families, hobbies, challenges. Along the way, I’ve been given every opportunity to maximize my potential, always supported by an exceptional group of co-workers. Growing together has been really rewarding.
Retirement life can be a big adjustment. With this new chapter, what will you miss most—or what do you hope to keep—going forward?
The people. While it’s easy to say we’ll keep in touch, things do get busy (especially in the world of insurance). Because of COVID, I haven’t been able to meet some of our newer folks, and I’m going to miss the opportunity to build those relationships. I’ll have less of a hand in helping people grow and develop their potential. I’m still in close proximity, though—Greg lives right across the street from me. Chris lives down the road on one side, and Marla lives on the other. Harley and I will still keep in touch often. So I won’t let them miss me too much!
It’s safe to say the industry is always evolving. In what ways have you seen AA Munro and insurance itself change over time?
I saw our family grow from 6 offices in ’92 to the 21 we now operate. Other than growing in Atlantic Canada, I think our biggest accomplishment is building a culture we’re proud of. When people join AA Munro, they don’t join the company but the family—they feel happy, secure and supported, which makes them feel prepared for an ever-changing industry. We work together to help our clients and achieve internal and external goals.
As for the industry, an insurance book of business used to solely depend on word of mouth. Who you knew, how you knew them, and how much you trusted them. Over time, the insurance process for both client and broker has changed significantly. While technology is great for efficiency, volume and availability, it also makes it a little more difficult to do business in other ways. I’m happy to say that despite these changes, we’re still supporting the communities we live in and continuing the relationships we’ve built in a really honest way.
Enough about us! What’s next for you? Any plans in mind for retirement?
I love bicycling, so I’m looking forward to spending more time doing that. I also recently started woodworking, which I find to be a great stress-reliever. Once COVID is over, Donna and I plan on doing a Rocky Mountaineer rail tour, which takes us from Toronto to BC through the Rockies. I’d love to hit somewhere tropical in the wintertime, too—but I think that’d take a little more convincing for Donna, who loves the Canadian winter! Lastly, spending more of my time volunteering will be great. The Hospital Foundation board, the MS Society and Antigonish Affordable Housing have some awesome projects coming down the line, and I’m excited to help.
What excites you about the future of AA Munro as you pass the torch?
The future is definitely bright for AA Munro. Along the way, I’ve been given every opportunity to maximize my potential, always supported by an exceptional group of co-workers. Having our current president, Aneill, at the helm is exciting—he’s young, but mature for his age and strikes a good balance between our people-based culture and strong performance. Greg and Rodney are strong thinkers, and will do a lot to move us in the right direction, too. We’re also looking more into technology as a tool to support our customers and coworkers… and we made it through a year and a half of COVID, and we’re still thriving. It’s only up from here!