scorecardresearch Skip to main content
bold types

Wolk celebrates a half-century of helping you by the side of the road

Board platforms team up to fill spots nationwide; Another big name lawyer joins Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Lish aims to help young professionals; ‘Jenga Tower’ it is?

Sid Wolk, CEO and chairman of Cross Country Group.Chris Morris

For the past 50 years, Sid Wolk has led what would become one of the biggest family-owned companies in Massachusetts, a Medford-based business called Agero.

Haven’t heard of it? You’re not alone. But the chances are good you — or someone next door to you — is indirectly an Agero customer.

Under the leadership of Wolk and his two sons Howard Wolk and Jeffrey Wolk, Agero and its parent company, the Cross Country Group, have become one of the largest roadside assistance businesses in the country. These names might not sound familiar because Agero is a white-label provider ― its roadside assistance service is resold under the name of other companies, typically an auto insurer or manufacturer. Every three seconds, on average, someone is being dispatched to help a driver with Agero service. Cross Country expects $2 billion in revenue this year, with $1.5 billion coming from Agero, a record high; and it employs more than 2,500 people, including 250 in the Boston area.

The crew will take a moment next Tuesday at the Medford headquarters to reflect on how far the company has come, when Agero celebrates its 50th anniversary and honors the legacy of 88-year-old Wolk, still Cross Country’s chief executive.


Sid Wolk started Agero as the Cross Country Motor Group in 1972. If he wanted enough critical mass to take on AAA, he realized he would have to sell roadside assistance to groups, instead of marketing directly to individual customers. His first big customer was the Connecticut Education Association, that state’s largest teachers union.

“We couldn’t sell one-on-one against AAA,” Sid Wolk said. “I’d never get there.”

Agero benefited from the fact that, starting in the 1980s, auto insurance companies wanted to offer roadside assistance to their customers as an added benefit, Howard Wolk said. Major investments Agero made in customer service technology such as telematics and artificial intelligence also paid off. Today, most new cars sold in the United States come with an Agero policy. Taken together, Agero covers more than 115 million drivers at any given time.


While Sid Wolk is still the chief executive of the Cross Country Group, he leaves most of the day-to-day responsibilities to his two sons, who are copresidents of the Cross Country Group, and to David Ferrick, the chief executive of Agero.

“I’m there mostly for advisory service,” Sid Wolk said. “With 50 years of experience, you make a lot of connections and a lot of friends in different industries. That’s really what I highlight.”

Mark Rogers, chief executive and founder of BoardProspects, pictured here in 2015, just completed a deal to merge with a West Coast rival, theBoardList. Jonathan Wiggs

Teaming up to fill out corporate boards

This is what happens when the South Shore meets the Bay Area.

Mark Rogers, chief executive and founder of BoardProspects, just completed a deal to merge with a West Coast rival, theBoardList. Both companies run online networking platforms for corporate directors as well as executives looking for the best and brightest to fill empty board seats. Former StubHub president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy — now chief executive of Xero — founded theBoardList in 2015 in San Francisco, and will join the board of BoardProspects, while theBoardList chief executive Megan Wang joins BoardProspects as chief operating officer.

It’s a big move for Rogers, a former corporate attorney who launched his business in 2010 after becoming fascinated with the board recruitment process. “I just thought there had to be a solution that would help with that,” Rogers said.


Postmerger, BoardProspects will have about 46,000 director candidates in its network, Rogers said. The 13-person company will remain based in the Hingham Shipyard. The focus on diversifying board membership in recent years has been a boom for BoardProspects. And more mergers could be on the way.

“As these companies come together, there’s a real opportunity to scale as we grow,” Rogers added. “We’re going to continue to look for other businesses and platforms that can help with that.”

Former Healey health care chief joins LA law firm’s Boston office

Los Angeles-based law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips keeps adding local superstars to its Boston team.

The latest to join: Eric Gold, the former chief of the health care division at the Massachusetts attorney general’s office. Gold served in the AG’s office for more than a decade, mostly when it was led by now-governor Maura Healey. He switched back to the private sector earlier this month by heading to Manatt’s Boston office, to advise clients on a range of health policy and regulatory issues as well as health-related government investigations. Gold said he was attracted by Manatt’s distinctive business model in which professional consultants work closely with the attorneys to help clients.

Manatt first opened a Boston office in 2019, with a group led by Scott Lashway, formerly of Holland & Knight. Earlier this year, longtime friends Joan Lukey and Marty Murphy joined, from Choate, Hall & Stewart and Foley Hoag, respectively.

“We’re really happy with what we’re doing in Boston,” chief executive Donna Wilson said. ”When you’re building an office, whom you bring in speaks loudly to what you’re about as a culture and a firm, especially if you’re coming from outside the area.”


Lish aims to speed up the civics learning curve

PR maven Sandy Lish learned most of what she knows about civic engagement from three decades of work in Boston. She’s hoping to speed up that process for the next generation of young professionals with a crash course or two.

This is what motivated Lish and the Castle Group, the firm she owns with Wendy Spivak, to launch their “Mission to Motion” initiative two years ago as part of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s “Fierce Urgency of Now” festival. Mission to Motion is now a quarterly series with the latest event taking place on Thursday at MassChallenge in the Seaport. Panelists include: Mass Cultural Council executive director Michael Bobbitt, Twelfth Baptist Church senior pastor Willie Bodrick II, Boston City Hall chief of staff Tiffany Chu, Eos Foundation president Andrea Silbert, and Point32Health’s Chrismaldi Vasquez-Casado. (Lish and Silbert, both Brookline natives, are childhood friends.) GBH News morning show host Paris Alston will moderate.

Lish is now making plans to broaden the Mission to Motion project, to take it beyond the four events a year, to include videos and other online content. She recently hired Alex Fries, a former staffer for New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, to help manage the project, among other responsibilities.

“I do have a big vision for what we would do with it,” Lish said. “I don’t want us to run before we walk, but we’re breaking in our running shoes.”


Recently retired Boston University president Bob Brown may not have embraced the nickname “Jenga Tower,” for the university’s 19-story, zigzagging Center for Computing & Data Sciences that opened last winter. But the BU community seems to have adopted the nickname nonetheless.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Jenga in the Jenga Tower

Recently retired Boston University president Bob Brown may not have embraced the nickname “Jenga Tower,” for the university’s 19-story, zigzagging Center for Computing & Data Sciences that opened last winter. But the BU community seems to have adopted the nickname nonetheless.

Witness the arrival of Jenga Night later this week at the tower overlooking the Charles River. It’s the second such game night, after a successful one in the spring. Student George Jiang came up with the idea, because he thought it would be fun to play Jenga inside the Jenga Tower. That proved to be a hit, so BU is bringing it back. (Sorry, Jenga fans, but the event is not open to the public.)

“Jenga Night is a casual social event that lets students take the name they’ve affectionately nicknamed the new building on campus and celebrate it,” Kori MacDonald, events manager for the Computing & Data Sciences faculty, said in an email. “This event celebrates the building’s unique way of creating community, and embodying teamwork and collaboration.”

Maybe that nickname is going to stick after all.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him @jonchesto.