Lakeland Business Guide 2019 Chamber Guide_2019 - Page 32

Ford Heacock Ford Heacock’s family is deeply rooted in Central Florida. Founded in Sebring in 1922, Heacock Insurance Group is a fifth-generation, family-owned business. Heacock joined the company in 1972 and serves as its CEO today. The insurance group expanded to Lakeland in the early 1980s and now occupies the old City Hall building in downtown. Although Heacock is recently retired, he takes great pride in his daughter, Stacey Heacock Weeks, (current Chamber board member); and his younger brother, Jason Heacock, who are now running the company. In 2000, Heacock became a member of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors when Ron Clark appointed him to a task force concerning the downtown area. Heacock assisted with developing a liaison between the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority and the Chamber. From there, Heacock went on to serve in the roles of secretary, vice chairman, and chairman. While serving as chair in 2004, Heacock assisted with the electric utility commission. As the board was presented with concerns on the electric rate structure, they created an advisory board for Lakeland Electric. One of Heacock’s fondest memories as chair includes choosing the theme and speaker for the annual Chamber banquet. He invited a speaker from Harley-Davidson and themed the banquet around motorcycles. “Serving on the board is the highest honor in the community. It is a lasting honor and position that people respect. It is a valuable credential to carry,” says Heacock. Looking to the future of the Chamber, Heacock adds, “Today the Chamber is responding to its members’ needs by offering more services related to workforce training.” Heacock’s involvement in the community includes having served on the boards of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority, Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation, Junior Achievement of Polk County, Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, and many more. In 2014, Heacock was the recipient of the George Jenkins Award. 32