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VSC Pioneer Passes Away

December 5, 2006

Jerry Farrar, who launched an entire industry in the automotive world when he co-founded the extended service contract program, passed away at Torrance Memorial Hospital (California) on Friday, Nov. 17. Farrar, who was 70 when he passed, was laid to rest at Green Hills Memorial Park, Torrance, Calif., on Nov. 22.

David Robertson, F&I columnist and executive director of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, lends a few words about the former president and CEO of American Warranty and General Warranty.

Pioneers share four common traits. Most come from humble means and none are perfect. They can all see a path where others only see trees. And most importantly, they have the skill and courage to pursue their chosen path to its end.

Jerry Farrar was a pioneer. He was instrumental in transforming vehicle service contracts from a post-sale afterthought to an aftermarket staple. From the mid-‘70s to the cusp of the ‘90s, as the president and CEO of American Warranty and later General Warranty, companies led by Farrar were among the top producers. They also played a prominent role in the development of the service contract industry.

A fierce competitor, Farrar’s legacy extends beyond the products and innovative administrative systems he championed to the hundreds of people who viewed Farrar as a mentor, motivator, and educator. It is difficult to find an aftermarket company that doesn’t list a former Farrar employee among its top executives or key managers, including names such as Chris Ford, president of Warrantech’s automotive department, Bob Corbin, IAS President, Ken Walton, vice president of claims for Automotive Financial Group, and CNA Western National’s David Muhoen.

Although Jerry pursued a wide range of entrepreneurial interests throughout his career — from real estate development to the medical field — he never strayed far from the retail automobile industry. At the time of his death, Jerry served as president and chief executive of the WorldWide Corporation, an automotive services development company for both direct and Web-based services.

For those who follow, it is easy for them to lose sight of or fail to fully appreciate the challenges faced by those who went first. In the beginning, no one had a clue about the cost or frequency of vehicle repairs beyond the term of the factory warranties. Jerry Farrar was among the very few who seized the opportunity to save consumers billions of dollars in mechanical repair expenses and generate much needed additional dealer revenue. His foresight enabled thousands of TPA employees and hundreds of general agents to enjoy lucrative and meaningful careers. Farrar may have cast a shadow pitted by specks of light, but it was, by any standard, a very large shadow.

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