Gary E. Bird was a member of the risk management and insurance community for more than 19 years. His last position was as senior vice president in Construction Risk Management at Marsh & McLennan. Previously, he was the director of risk management at Phelps Dodge Corporation where he spent most of his career. Gary looked at risk on an enterpirse-wide basis before “enterprise risk management” became the industry buzz-phrase. He identified risks outside the usual physical hazards and collaborated with his firm’s finance, credit and international operations to identify and set strategy for insurable and non-insurable risks.
Most notably, Gary is the author of the first three editions of The Wrap-Up Guide, an internationally recognized series that explores strategies and best-practices for managing liability policies designed to serve as all-encompassing insurance for all contractors and subcontractors. The esteem with which his peers held him motivated IRMI to change the name of its annual construction risk management award to The Gary E. Bird Horizon Award. The award is presented annually to a risk or safety manager who has implemented an innovative risk management program for a construction project.
Some of Gary’s professional achievements included: an endeavor to address injury and fatality rates among third-party contractors that were above accepted levels on a number of sites. His commitment to this initiative led to the reduction of lost time rates to 10% of previous levels, as well as lowering fatalities from 1 every 18 months to zero over a similar time frame. He also led an initiative to address the environmental exposures of his company and those of its environmental contractors; and introduced safety programs to better protect fellow employees, the employees of contractors working on site, as well as public exposures.
Dedicated to bettering the risk management profession, Gary was an active member of RIMS, serving as president of the Society’s Arizona Central Chapter. He taught many classes, presented at industry trade conferences including RIMS Annual Conference & Exhibition, participated in industry panels and wrote white papers and articles on a wide-range of risk management subjects. Gary also embraced bringing new, younger people onto his team. He loved to teach and commented that, “the way they examine problems isn’t constrained by what they have already been taught.”
Gary lived in Tempe, Arizona from 1973 until his tragic death on September 11, 2001. He was very active serving the community. He was active with the Tempe Jaycees and was a founding member, past president and chairman of the Tempe Boys & Girls Club. He served for six years on the Tempe Planning and Zoning Commission including one year as chairman and served ten years on the Tempe Industrial Development Authority.