Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Pinnacol's Ken Ross hits a rocky patch after Pebble Beach

Graeme McDowell may have won the U.S. Open, but in a far more inexplicable Pebble Beach victory, Ken Ross, the CEO of Pinnacol Assurance, was named Business Person of the Year by the Colorado chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.

The award cited his "communication skills." And he certainly made himself clear to Channel 7's Tony Kovaleski.

After tracked down Ross and some of Pinnacol's top performers on a their five-day wine-and-golf getaway to Pebble Beach this spring, he told the reporter, "You point your finger at me again, and I'm going to break it."

Pinnacol Assurance is a quasi-public agency that gets a variety of breaks from the state in exchange for providing workman's compensation insurance for any Colorado business, no matter how risky; the company recently was slapped in a state audit for can't-miss bonus standards and sloppy expense reports.

"In our opinion, the fact that 75 percent of the sample we tested contained violations of the travel and entertainment expense policies bordered on abuse under Government Auditing Standards," noted the lengthy State Auditor's report.

"I am honored to be recognized by the Colorado PRSA chapter," Ross said in accepting the award last month, before the audit was released. "Managing the public's perception of your company and having an open flow of communication is essential to a company's success, and I have the highest respect for those in the public relations field who help CEOs like myself manage those perceptions."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun