Rytech’s Sunshine Conference—2022

You’ve heard the poetic phrase “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.”    

It sure seemed to apply to Rytech’s 2022 Sunshine Conference last May.  It garnered smiles and accolades from every participant who came to learn from and socialize with a professional cast of speakers and Florida claims personnel. 

In the wake of COVID-19 other similar meetings have not fared as well, but a two-year hiatus set the stage for the grandest of comebacks.

This year’s Sunshine Conference was at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra. It’s the first since COVID shut down the world in 2020.  It was the 10th overall conference since the 2012 inaugural with little drop in attendance from prior sessions and over 100 individual registrations.  Rytech COO, Randy Kerlin, called it a great chance for fellowship. “While conference calls and virtual meetings can accomplish daily tasks, the true value of The Sunshine Conference has traditionally been the personal interaction of the home office team and franchise owners with adjusters, vendors, carriers, MGA’s and friends.”

Almost a decade ago, Rytech team members began looking for even closer relationships with Florida’s claim executives.  They knew the insurance promise was in the hands of those who handle claims and that Rytech was an integral part of that promise.   

Even sponsorship selection for The Sunshine Conference seeks those with cultures like Rytech’s. This often means exchanging large numbers of attendees for the intimacy necessary to provide enhanced learning and impact for guests and sponsors alike.

Over the years, The Sunshine Conference has gained a reputation for great presenters.  In addition to industry pundits and problem solvers, attendees shake hands with Lou Holtz, Lee Corso, Bobby Bowden, Steve Spurrier, Dale Murphy, Tim Tebow, and other celebrities, all while learning and sharing with representatives of Florida’s domestic carriers and often national or super-regionals.

Before business, there was the usual opening reception this year with a special touch.  The Sawgrass Marriott has a floating green located off the reception deck in a lagoon, complete with golf balls and nine irons for guests to show their linksmanship, which they did in substantial numbers. Reach and hold the green was the big challenge, but when Chuck Messina (picture below) AVP of Contractor’s Alliance Network, holed out, the crowd went wild—the ball landed on the green and literally rolled right into the cup—and in so doing, foreshadowed what would turn out to be one of the best Sunshine Conferences ever.

One of Rytech’s favorite causes is The Wounded Warrior Project. This year’s Thursday night offsite dinner was at Aunt Kate’s in St. Augustine with special guest speaker and Wounded Warriors Spokesman Dan Miller, who explained he doesn’t see his life experiences as his story—rather, they are his history. “We are all a product of our own personal histories,” he says. “The first step in really understanding a person or a subject is to understand the truth behind that history.”

Dan Miller

Dan’s message moved the crowd to a rousing standing ovation, for a man and for a cause that transcends the workplace. Rytech is proud to have raised $13,000 (so far) for this important cause. Those interested in helping, as so many who attended the conference have already done, can go to Sunshine Conference Supports WWP and donate.

“When you see the destruction, the lives lost, the sacrifices, and the suffering, it changes you,” Dan Miller said. “… There was always the next mission, the next rocket or improvised explosive device, the next danger to prevent or avoid. Those experiences can’t stay buried forever.”

Major General Jay Hood

Speaking of experiences under fire, earlier in the day, Major Generals Jay Hood and Karl Horst doubled down on the stimulating message they delivered during Rytech’s Owners Meeting the month prior. Why shouldn’t Sunshine Conference friends, sponsors, claims, and carrier personnel also learn from these two accomplished leaders. 

The two Generals overlayed their perspectives on building a “Championship Culture” with the values, goals, and practices that characterize Rytech Restorations’ operating principles. It’s not a “destination,” the Generals agreed... “It’s a continuous journey that requires a mission, a vision, a set of core values, a plan of action, communication, nurturing and, most of all...LEADERSHIP!”

Major General Karl Horst

Of course, there was lots of claims and restoration business to discuss as well. Steve Backman of Transcynd shared the “Current Industry Challenges.” Jon Williams with Grindley Williams gave everyone a “Virtual Reality Check,” and Don Crouch, President of Preferred Network explained how to Pandemic Proof your business by “Building During Chaos.” Brad Hancock with Hancock Claims presented “Navigating Disruption—A Road Map to Support Carrier Success.”  Jay Straughan, Randy Kerlin, and Rytech CEO and founder William “Bubba” Ryan provided updates on the substantial changes and advancements taking place at Rytech Restoration.

In between the learning and networking, attendees squeezed in a little time for the pool, golf, fishing, and the famous Sawgrass Marriott Spa package. 

Keep an eye out for next year’s Sunshine Conference and register early. Rytech offers the following photos in the hopes that you’ll be there next year.

Featured photo above, Rytech folks attending from left to right: Ben Tepedino, Jay Straughan, Amber Payne, William “Bubba” Ryan, Barbara Lynch, Dyan Kurtz, Carol Rogers, Courtney Crouch, Dave MacInnes, Randy Kerlin, Warren Black, and Angie Jones.

But first a sincere “Thank You” to the conference sponsors!

Gold Sponsors

  • Primus Temporary Housing
  • USBCG-Construction Experts
  • Straight Line Global
  • Timber Warriors, The Storm Recovery Crew
  • Donan
  • Next Gear Solutions
  • Itel

Platinum Sponsors

  • Hancock Claims Consultants
  • Grindley William Engineering
  • Preferred Repair Network
  • Transcynd Claim Partners