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I must admit from a business perspective, that this is my favorite time of the year. I truly enjoy reflecting on what has been accomplished in our business and as always, looking forward to the many opportunities that await us in the coming year.

2008, even though a little more challenging, will go down as another good year for our firm. We completed our 20 th year in business the way we had hoped, meeting expectations. We were also one of two agencies nationally to be added to Acuity Insurance Company's list of contracted agents in 2008. That provides us not only a substantial commercial insurance company for our prospects and clients, but also a new and quite impressive personal lines (home, auto, etc.) market. Acuity joins a list of impressive commercial markets that have joined with Bates Insurance Group, to provide quality insurance products at affordable prices.

As a company, we also felt the pain of our clients caused by the rapid changes in our economy. We immediately positioned our firm in the last quarter of 2008, to respond to clients and prospects knowing that their needs in 2009 will be great and that they don't need unnecessary concerns with their insurance programs.

2009 on the other hand, has opportunity for our company. Even though we do expect the soft commercial insurance market to slow, due to higher combined loss ratios, and lower investment return, we feel many of our insurance companies want to work hard at maintaining the insurance premium volume they currently have on the books. We feel that means we will still be able to negotiate on our client's behalf for the best pricing possible.

One thing for sure, it is our goal in 2009 to finish the year with our clients feeling that we were an advantage to them during these challenging times. That with our company's long experience and vast resources, our clients felt we truly were a good business decision for 2009.

Happy New Year and thank you for your business.

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