President's Message

His Legacy: Serve Others
Emergency roadside assistance is probably the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks of AAA. It's likely that most of you reading this have found yourself needing help along the road at some point, either for yourself or a family member.

AAA is widely renowned as a leader in emergency roadside assistance in large part because of the dedication of our employees to always take care of our members' needs first. Fostering such dedication within our Automotive Services division requires leadership with an extraordinary passion for service. In that regard, one man has always stood out among AAA's strongest advocates: Robert E. "Ed" Schatzman, Jr.

Ed Schatzman worked for AAA for 46 years, joining the ranks of the then-St. Petersburg Motor Club when he was a mere 14 years old. For the past 25 years, he served as AAA's senior officer in charge of automotive services. But as is so often the case, tragedy strikes when we least expect it, and Ed died suddenly on May 21.

Ed's passion for serving others, both in his job and personal life, is something I've always admired. The magnitude of his influence came by "walking the talk", and Ed would expect no more of others than he was willing to do himself. As I spent time visiting with his employees in the hours and days following his passing, I heard story after story of how Ed's actions...big and small, public and private...positively impacted the lives and attitudes of our employees.

For Ed, time was not well spent unless it had the ultimate effect of improving member service, encouraging employees to perform at their personal best or recognizing them when they succeeded. Ed was an excellent communicator, and that is something he did largely the old fashioned way: with a pen and a pad of paper. His early arrivals for meetings provided the perfect opportunity to draft correspondence to AAA members or write personal notes of congratulations to employees. He was never too busy to take a call from a concerned member, and his goal was always to leave them totally satisfied.

Ed was the ultimate mentor; he took that role seriously, knowing that such time spent with his employees would positively impact their lives and enhance their ability to serve our members. While it may not be easy to quantify, I know without a doubt that every one of our 4.2 million members has and will continue to benefit from Ed's service to AAA. His expertise led to the introduction of new services that solve more of our members' problems at the roadside, as well as technology that allows our employees to provide high levels of service every time they answer a call for help.

Anyone who knew Ed experienced the warmth and caring of someone who truly put service to others over self. He was a committed volunteer leader with the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg and many other community organizations, but his overriding passion was the Boy Scouts of America. For 53 years, he supported the character-building purpose of Scouting and earned the Silver Beaver Award—the highest volunteer honor bestowed by Scouting.

While the untimely loss of this beloved AAA executive, colleague and friend has left a huge hole in our hearts, my tribute to Ed and my promise to you is that his great legacy of service will live on in the actions and attitudes of our employees.

John Tomlin
John Tomlin, President and CEO

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