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Richard ‘Dick’ Griffin: 1938–2021

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71-72

Commercial lines insurance broker Richard “Dick” Griffin, owner of Griffin Insurance Services and Grifcon Enterprises who specialized in the dietary supplement industry, died on December 29, 2021, after complications from a stroke in 2017. Griffin had 50 years of experience in the insurance industry and worked with dietary supplement companies since 1996. His innovative ideas helped companies save on necessary insurance products and invest more of their earnings in business expansion, product development, and research. He was 83 years old.

Griffin was born in Rawlins, Wyoming, on May 10, 1938, and was the youngest of five children. His work ethic started early: As he wrote in his self-published autobiographical short story My Summer Vacation (2011), he began working in a café at 11 years old to earn spending money. After graduating from high school, Griffin joined the US Navy and served as a hospital corpsman. After his discharge from service, he attended the University of Wyoming, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English.

Griffin then moved with his young family to San Francisco, California, where he began his insurance career at the Hartford Insurance Company. He served in several capacities within the company and gained experience in many different aspects of insurance sales. After 10 years with Hartford, he formed his own company, where he developed products tailored to the specific needs of organizations, including companies that marketed and/or produced dietary and herbal supplements.

Griffin saw an opportunity for these companies to save money on product liability insurance by pooling their positive safety records, which indicated an excellent safety profile for these similar products. It proved so successful that in 1996, he entered into an exclusive agreement with the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), the leading trade association in the United States that deals with herbs and medicinal plant products, to provide product liability insurance for AHPA members. This program, known as the National Products Liability Insurance program, created insurance products that fit the specific, unique needs of manufacturers and suppliers. He later extended this program to other organizations, including the commercial members of the nonprofit American Botanical Council (ABC). With his method of pooling applicants, he was able to provide insurance services with low premiums and maintain high safety standards.

In a member advisory after Griffin’s death, AHPA President Michael McGuffin wrote: “Dick’s concept from the outset was that collaboration between the insurance industry and the businesses it serves will produce the greatest benefit for all. Aside from taking care of his customers by making affordable coverage broadly available, the program he created 25 years ago has returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the trade groups with whom he worked.”1

In 2000, Griffin partnered with RT Specialty insurance brokers and made the dietary supplement industry his primary focus. He launched another insurance program in partnership with AHPA in 2011 called the ThinkRisk Vitamin and Supplement program that specifically addressed claims regarding California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (commonly known as Proposition 65). He also became a trailblazing advocate for the US hemp and cannabis (Cannabis spp., Cannabaceae) industries. For his efforts, AHPA awarded Griffin the 2015 AHPA Herbal Hero Award, acknowledging “the tremendous benefits that his programs have generated for the dietary supplement industry.”2

McGuffin added: “It is a life well lived when your friends continue to benefit from your life’s work even after you’re gone. That is certainly the case with Dick Griffin, as we will continue for many years to gain from his commitment to solving the mystery of business insurance for the entire natural products community” (email, January 25, 2022).

Loren Israelsen, president of United Natural Products Alliance, wrote: “Dick was a Wyoming kid and a veteran, and anyone who knew or worked with Dick understood one thing: he meant what he said, and he did what he said he would do. He came into the dietary supplement industry as an insurance broker, but in reality, he was our champion by funding so many trade association efforts and creating new ways to support our growth. Selling insurance was the vehicle but supporting each of us was his cause” (email, March 23, 2022).

ABC also recognized Griffin’s contributions to the botanical industry in general and ABC as an organization with the 2017 ABC Champion Award. ABC gave Griffin the award in gratitude for his “beneficial partnership” with the organization and his personal and professional generosity.3

ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal remembered Griffin’s warmth and good nature. “One of the many rewards we receive from being in the herb and natural products industries and extended communities is the enduring friendships we develop with good-hearted people,” he wrote (email, January 7, 2022). “Knowing Dick Griffin is an example of this. Dick was a truly decent, humble, loving, caring, and deeply generous man. He was a pioneer in the field of providing liability insurance for companies in the herb and dietary supplement industries…. I will always fondly remember his gentleness and kindness, his respect for others, and seemingly bottomless generosity.”

In his personal life, Griffin was devoted to his family. According to his wife RoseMarie, he “never missed a school function, soccer game, or Wednesday night spelling practice. He never hesitated to point out his daughters and tell anyone how important to him they were” (email, March 21, 2022).

“Dick’s optimism and humor were infectious,” RoseMarie added. “He had a special way to make you feel good about yourself, your dreams, or decisions, no matter the circumstance.”

Dick Griffin is survived by RoseMarie Griffin, his wife of 61 years; his daughters Rene (Henry) Kim and Nicole (Brian) Griffin; and four grandsons.

References

  1. Dick Griffin — In Memoriam [press release]. Silver Spring, MD: American Herbal Products Association; January 6, 2022. Available at: www.ahpa.org/News/LatestNews/TabId/96/ArtMID/1179/ArticleID/2761/Dick-Griffin-%e2%80%93-In-Memoriam.aspx. Accessed May 17, 2022.
  2. AHPA to award Dick Griffin, Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, Mountain Rose Herbs, Stephen Daniells and Hank Schultz for herbal industry contributions [press release]. Silver Spring, MD: American Herbal Products Association; February 27, 2015. Available at: www.ahpa.org/News/LatestNews/tabid/96/ArtMID/1179/ArticleID/409/Default.aspx. Accessed May 17, 2022.
  3. Dick Griffin named ABC Champion for 2017 [press release]. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; February 22, 2018. Available at: www.herbalgram.org/news/press-releases/2018/DickGriffinNamedABCChampionfor2017/. Accessed May 17, 2022.