Rick Lord helped expand Associated Industries of Massachusetts and solidify its position as the state’s largest employer association by broadening it well beyond its manufacturing roots.

Now, after nearly 20 years of running AIM, Lord is preparing to walk away from the influential trade group he helped shape announcing Friday that he will retire next year.

“It just feels like I’m ready to end this part of my professional career,” said the 63-year-old Lord, who joined the group in 1991. “It’s a great time to think about doing something different.”

Under Lord’s guidance, AIM expanded its membership from about 2,300 companies to roughly 4,000, with most of those now from outside the manufacturing sector.


AIM is a powerful lobbying force on Beacon Hill as an advocate for business interests, particularly for larger employers. Most notably, Lord played a key role in shaping the 2006 universal health care law that became known as Romneycare. He worked to garner broad support for the legislation in the business community, and to ensure the state assessment for noncompliance was modest and rules for business were not too disruptive.

More recently, AIM was integral in the “Grand Bargain” negotiations this year between business and labor advocates over legislation raising the minimum wage, providing paid family and medical leave, and creating an annual sales tax holiday.

AIM’s board is expected to hire a search firm this fall, with a goal to have Lord’s successor in place by the organization’s annual meeting in May. Lord said he will stay on until his replacement is found.

Patricia Begrowicz, president of Onyx Specialty Papers, will lead the board committee charged with finding a replacement.

That person will need a passion for public policy and an ability to work closely with a variety of different companies and industries, as well as with state government officials.


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.