Associated Industries of Florida is one of the most influential business groups in the state.
[Photo: Ray Stanyard]
» Name: Barney Tipton Bishop III
» Title: President and CEO
» Age: 59
» Total Compensation
» Family: Bishop's wife, Shelby Bishop, is a 23-year state employee who currently serves as an executive assistant to the Florida Secretary of State. Bishop credits some of his knowledge of the legislative and budget process to her. They have no children.
» Roots: Born in Panama City, Bishop grew up poor in Miami. His father worked three jobs, he says, to support the family.
» Education: Bishop attended Miami-Dade Junior College before transferring to Emerson College in Boston, earning debate scholarships at both schools. He earned a bachelor's degree in speech.
» Career Track: Bishop returned to Florida after college and opened a detective agency in Orlando. In 1979, he began lobbying for the Florida Association of Private Investigators. He sold his detective agency in 1983 and moved to Tallahassee to work for then-state Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter. In 1984, he became state president of the Florida Young Democrats. In 1993, after stints at the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers and the Florida Democratic Party, he opened his own lobbying firm, Windsor Group, which specialized in appropriations in the behavioral healthcare field. He sold the firm in 2005 to join AIF.
» Leadership: Bishop's resume makes him an unlikely choice to run one the state's most conservative business lobbies. A lifelong Democrat who previously worked for the Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Florida Democratic Party, Bishop began working for AIF as a contract lobbyist. "When I got here, we were at a low point in membership," Bishop recalls. "AIF owned an insurance company that was a tremendous asset, but the perception was that AIF cared more about the workers' compensation company than other issues." Two and a half years ago, AIF sold its insurance affiliate, Boca-based Associated Industries Insurance, to AmTrust — a move that freed Bishop to focus on AIF's core mission of advocating and lobbying on behalf of its business constituents.
» Style: Smooth operative. "Barney is tough, but he is a gentleman," says Southern Strategy's Dave Rancourt, one of AIF's contract lobbyists. "AIF has emerged as a better, stronger and more efficient organization that still has the ability to fight issues that others may not want to fight, but to do so where you can disagree without being disagreeable."
» Perspective: "My job is to grow AIF," Bishop says. "Everyone knows what the Chamber of Commerce does. People know what the NFIB, the retail federations, the others do. Associated Industries is a horse, just like the rest of the business community, but a horse of a different color. I have to work harder to tell them what Associated Industries is."