Dr Douglas Crowe is retiring from the Safire Board

Dr Douglas Crowe has announced that he is retiring from the Safire Board; he has been part of Safire’s 36-year journey since before the company was started. He met Bailey Bekker, one of Safire’s founding members, when they were both studying at Stellenbosch University, where Dr Crowe obtained his doctorate in Forestry following his Masters degree in Forestry from Duke University in the USA.

Dr Crowe remembers Bailey as being extremely confident and a firm believer in the revolutionary concept of an insurance co-operative that would serve the needs of local timber growers.

“Timber growers had a problem in getting affordable cover for their plantations,” he recalls. “Bailey was the active guy – he really got things done. He would rather go to a meeting and discuss this new concept than play golf! He was very thorough and drove the process.”

It was Bailey Bekker who travelled overseas to find a reinsurer, and managed to convince the acclaimed Lloyds of London to support the fledgling insurance co-operative.

Dr Crowe’s expertise in forestry made him an invaluable member of the Safire Board. After studying, he was appointed General Manager at the Natal Co-operative Timber Company, thereafter becoming timber advisor to Mondi Paper Company. From 1970, he was an independent forestry and agricultural consultant. He is a former Chairman of the Baynesfield Trust and the Federation of South African Timber Growers, and is a former President of the SA Wattle Growers Union.

He is also a founder and developer of the acclaimed Garlington estate in Hilton, with its mix of residential, office and leisure facilities.

Dr Crowe says that he is extremely proud of having been part of Safire’s transformation from timber co-operative to the multi-faceted company that it is today.

“As Safire has grown and diversified, it has continued to consistently do well and yet it is still taking care of timber growers and farmers as per the vision of the original founding members.”

Dr Crowe says that, at the age of 83, he wants to focus on his retirement.

“I will still be involved with Safire, however, as I am a Safire client and they are my insurer to this day. I have enjoyed working with the other members of the Board over the years, including the current chairman Paul Hay, and wish everyone at Safire well for a future that I sincerely believe will feature ongoing growth and successful expansion.”

Pierre Bekker, Safire CEO, says, “Dr Crowe has been involved with Safire from the very beginning. I have really enjoyed our many interactions and have always valued Doug’s input as a Board member. He is a larger-than-life character who will be missed in the boardroom but he will always be part of the Safire team. We wish him a happy retirement and will no doubt continue to see him competing for the coveted ‘balls to the wall’ trophy at the Safire golf day.”