Jeffrey A. Ludroff, who was the sixth CEO of Erie Insurance from 2002 to 2007, has died at the age of 63.
Ludrof, a resident of Cranberry Township, Butler County, died Nov. 19 while under the care of Good Samaritan Hospice in Wexford, according to his obituary.
Obituary:Jeffrey A. Ludroff, 63
Erie Insurance, where Ludrof worked for 25 years, said he joined the company in 1981 as a claims adjuster at its Allentown-Bethlehem branch. He became District Sales Manager at the same location in 1985.
After several promotions, Ludroff was named executive vice president of insurance operations in 1999. He held that position for nearly three years before being named CEO in 2002. He succeeded Stephen Milne, who died in 2002 at Age 54 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.
Ludroff, who was the company’s top executive until August 2007, was succeeded by John J. Brinling Jr., who served as interim CEO from 2007 to 2008.
Current company CEO Tim Necastro said, “The Erie family is saddened by the passing of former Erie Insurance President and CEO Jeff Ludroff. Jeff’s five years as CEO completed more than 25 years of service marked by leadership roles in both corporate and field insurance operations.. Those of us who were here in Erie during his tenure remember Jeff with Our condolences and hearts go out to his family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.”
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Erie Insurance appeared to be in good financial shape when Ludroff announced his departure in a quarterly earnings report filed in August 2007.
The company reported net income for the quarter of $70.5 million, an increase of 25.3% over the same quarter last year.
Also under his watch in 2003, the company first joined the Fortune 500, a ranking of the nation’s 500 largest companies by total revenue.
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Although Ludroff’s decision to retire came two years after he revealed he had Hodgkin’s disease, Ludroff said at the time that his decision was not health-related.
However, it appears to be related to larger changes taking place within the company.
Ludroff announced his departure two weeks after the death of FW Hirt, chairman of the company’s board of directors, and on the same day the company announced that Thomas Hagen had been selected to replace Hirt as chairman.
“I have enjoyed a long and successful career with this company, but given the recent passing of (FW) Bill Hirt and the excellent financial and operational health of The Erie, I think this is the perfect time – for myself, my family and for The Erie – to move on to something new,” he said.
In an interview at the time with the Erie Times-News, Ludroff said, “I understand that sometimes a leader has to step aside to allow progress, and I’m very excited about (the company’s) future and my future.”
Hagen, who remains Erie Insurance’s board chairman, said Wednesday he was saddened by Ludrof’s death.
“He was really in the prime of his life,” Hagen said. “He was a major contributor to the success of Erie Insurance during his time there.”
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In recent years, Ludrof entered into a business partnership with Erie developer Tom Kennedy.
The two have been partners for about 10 years in Select Real Estate Opportunities, a real estate investment trust that invests in medical clinics and five Cobblestone Hotel locations.
“We were business partners. He was my advisor,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy, who first met Ludrof during his tenure at Erie Insurance, said Ludrof is proud of what he has accomplished in that role.
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But he also distinguished himself outside of Erie Insurance and outside of the business world.
“He was one of those people who lit up the room when he walked in. He was always smiling,” Kennedy said. “I think he was a great guy and he did a lot for the community. I’m a better person for having worked with him and known him.”
Kennedy said Ludroff overcame Hodgkin’s disease, which he disclosed in 2002, but dealt with dementia late in life. His family has requested that memorial donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Ludroff is survived by his wife of 37 years, Loria Bishi Ludroff, as well as three sons and four grandchildren.
Contact Jim Martin at [email protected]