Midland National's First AM Best Rating

In 1980 A.M. Best, the oldest and most widely recognized provider of insurance industry focused ratings, financial data and news, granted Midland National its first industry rating for financial strength as well as the credit quality of the company’s obligations. 
Midland National Employees 1970s Iowa

Midland National Home Office Sioux Falls

Midland National occupied its new 22,000 sq. ft. gold glass home office building in June 1979. After operating for 71 years in Watertown, the move to a new home office in Sioux Falls would mark the beginning of a new era in Midland National Life’s history – a period of unprecedented growth.

In 1978, Charles Sammons established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). The Sammons ESOP was designed to provide more than a retirement benefit. It enabled employees to impact the value of their personal holdings as a result of their contributions to the success of their individual companies. 

Citing concerns that Watertown could no longer support the company’s rapid growth, Midland National announced plans to move its home office to Sioux Falls

Relocating to Sioux Falls offered Midland National several advantages, including a larger population from which to recruit personnel, better air travel connections, and access to a larger postal processing center.

Within a year, all departments had migrated to temporary quarters in Sioux Falls while a new five-story building was under construction. 

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In 2017, Midland National earned accreditation by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an established nonprofit organization focused on advancing marketplace trust. Accreditation is earned by meeting BBB standards, such as making efforts to resolve consumer complaints, carrying through with product delivery, utilizing transparent business practices and more. BBB ratings are based on information BBB obtains from public complaints, public data sources and information directly from businesses. 

Within this framework, Midland received an A+ rating – the highest rating on a scale from A+ to F. View Midland National’s BBB profile for more information.

To read the latest updates, visit Midland National on social media at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Midland National Life Insurance, combined with other Sammons Financial Group member companies, was ranked in the top 10 of 83 major life and health insurance companies for life insurance sales in the year 2016. The ranking and survey is in accordance with LIMRA, which is a research association for life and health insurance companies. The survey measures annual premiums and includes 83 major companies. Member companies of Sammons® Financial Group include Midland National® Life Insurance Company and Sammons®Corporate Markets Group, and North American Company for Life and Health Insurance®.
“This is quite the achievement when you consider some of the companies on each side of us are household names. The consistent execution of our strategy and relationships with our distribution partners has put us in a great place,” Midland National President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Palmitier said. Our growth rates have averaged 11% the past five years compared with an industry average of 2%.”

Learn more about other Midland National milestones.


Former Midland National Life Insurance Company President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William A. Rigsbee passed away on May 1, 2017. Rigsbee joined Midland National in 1961, retiring in 1992 after serving 31 years at the company.
“Bill left an indelible mark on our organization by leading us on a course of unparalleled growth, stability and financial strength,” said Esfand Dinshaw, Chairman and CEO of Sammons Financial Group, parent company of Midland National. “Under his leadership, the Regional Sales Director (RSD) program was established, a system that helped us build our field force, and enabled us to obtain national prominence in the insurance marketplace,” added Dinshaw.
Under his leadership, the company increased life insurance policies in force from $275 million to $50 billion; increased assets from $29 million to $4.1 billion; and achieved a compound annual growth rate of 15% while maintaining superior industry ratings and a high quality investment portfolio*.

*Midland National internal information, 1961.

You can discover the full archives of William A. Rigsbee here on the Midland National Company History site.
Midland National 110 Year Annoucement

On August 30, 2016, Midland National announced the celebration of its 110 year history with an anniversary announcement.

The 110 year anniversary news release is featured here on the Midland National website.
Midland National President Steve Palmitier on 110 years
Quote from Midland President and COO Steve Palmitier

“As we mark this landmark moment, we continue to focus on protecting our policy owners and supporting our partners,” said Palmitier. “At our core, we deeply believe that today’s success is a result of a deliberate and enduring strategic approach—an approach that we will continue to follow and apply as we make our second hundred years just as successful as the first.“

To see the 50th Anniversary of Midland National in 1956, click here.
To see the 100th Anniversary of Midland National in 2006, click here.
Midland National is one of two life insurance companies under the Sammons Financial Group umbrella. The other is the North American Company for Life and Health Insurance.

By 2015., the entities forming Sammons Financial Group have more than $58 billion in assets and over $243 billion of life insurance in force.*

* Sammons Financial Group, Inc., internal information 2014
Midland National Life 100 years

Midland National Celebrates 100 Years

Midland National celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a series of events, showing its gratitude to the city and citizens of Sioux Falls. The company looked back at its first slogan “Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow,” and donated 100 trees to the city. Through a radio and print campaign, titled “Sioux Falls at its Best,” Midland National recognized achievements in the community from the last century. To top off the anniversary, Midland National’s employees and top agents from across the country were invited to the celebration in Sioux Falls during the fall of 2006.

Midland National Life 100 Years
Advertisements from the Midland National "Sioux Falls at its Best" Campaign from 2006

Midland National Celebrates 100 Years
A special "100 years of life at its Best" logo from the Midland National Life Company.

From 1997 to 2001, Midland National grew in both size as well as complexity through its own efforts and those of its parent company, Sammons Enterprises, Inc.  A number of support functions were combined with other Sammons-owned financial companies.  An annuity division was created, and Midland National acquired several businesses and distribution systems.  Combined, assets grew $5.4 billion to $9.2 billion.

The entities forming Sammons Financial Holdings reached more than $196 billion of individual insurance in force on more than 1.2 million insurance policies, making it one of the industry's top-30 groups in terms of individual insurance in force.

Upon his retirement, William Rigsbee said:
"To survive and prosper, a company must provide an adequate return to its shareholders, good products reasonably priced to its customers and the incentive for growth to its field force and employees.  My job as chief executive officer of Midland National has been to balance all of these sometime conflicting objectives."
In 1992, after serving thirty-five years, John C. "Jack" Watson left his role as president of another insurance company to become CEO, presidentand chairman of Midland National.  His positive message began:
"Now is the time to get highly excited about the Midland National opportunity and share it with your clients, business associates, teammates and potential customers."
Midland National Life Insurance - $50B
Midland National's Bronze Medallion for $50B in Life Insurance 'in force'

In 1992, Midland National issued a bronze medallion commemorating over $50 billion of life insurance in force at the company.  This bronze medallion can be seen in the image above and in the image below.  

In 1962, Wayne A. Gillis joined Midland National as associate actuary, advancing to senior vice president in 1975.  In 1981, Gillis was named president of Midland National.  Gillis died in November of 1983 and William Rigsbee returned as president.

In 1970, Midland National Life Insurance attained One Billion Dollars of Life Insurance in force.  They issued this medallion that you can see above.

Just a little over twenty years later, that number had grown.  In 1992, Midland National issued a bronze medallion commemorating over $50 billion of life insurance in force at the company.

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  • In 1908, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company (which would eventually be renamed to Midland National Life Insurance Company) saw the first death claim filed.

In 1962, Sammons Enterprises, Inc. is established to hold Charles Sammon's diverse investments.

In November 1961, William Rigsbee was named president of Midland National.  For the next 31 years, Rigsbee, as president and chief executive officer, set Midland National on a course of unparralleled growth, stability and financial strength.

He established the Regional Sales Director (RSD) program and set in motion a belief that he carried with him through his entire career with Midland National Life - give the agent three things:

1.  Excellent products.
2.  A contract that rewards the agent for superior performance.
3.  The company service philosophy that, "The most important person is the one who makes the sale."

Under his leadership, the company increased life insurance policies in force from $275 million to $50 billion; and achieved a compound annual growth rate of 15% while maintaining superior industry ratings and a high quality investment portfolio.*

*Source: Midland National internal information, 1961.

In 1961, Midland National embraced the Personal Producing General Agent (PPGA) system as the marketing structure to distribute products to consumers in the United States.  The company began working with regional sales directors to recruit and train independent agents across the country.  Midland National stays committed to its independent agents by providing direct access to underwriters and other home office employees, as well as fast, fair and consistent service.

This enabled Midland National to build its field force and gain agent loyalty.

Today, Midland National is licensed to operate in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and military installations both overseas and at home.

Read more at Trust Midland National.
Midland National 1958 History
In 1958, Reserve Life Insurance Company based in Dallas, Texas, acquired the majority of Midland National stock. Charles A. Sammons, sole shareholder and president of Reserve Life, owned eight other life insurance companies and had been active in the business for 30 years. 

In addition to health and life insurance companies, Sammons acquired control or substantial stock interests in diverse industries. These businesses included hotels, travel related companies, equipment, industrial and energy distribution, cable television, bottled water, real estate and manufacturing. Sammons had admired the rapid growth of Midland National, which had doubled its life insurance in force during the prior five years.
Midland National 50 Years - 1956

In 1956, Midland National marked the 50th company anniversary.  The 50th was celebrated with a banquet in Waterton on Frank Bramble's birthday, May 23, 1956.  As part of the celebration, a "Big Boost for Bramble" sales contest was held.  Midland National representatives submitted nearly three times as much business as normal during this seven-day sales contest.

Frank Bramble Midland National 50 years
Midland National Celebrated its 50th Anniversary in conjunction with Frank Bramble's 85th birthday on May 23, 1956.

In 1947, Midland National named Frank L. Bramble, a native of South Dakota as President.  Bramble was one of the founders of the company and remained a part of Midland National until his death in 1966 at age 94.  He was the secretary-treasurer until 1947.  He then served as president for four years.  Thereafter, Bramble served as Chairman of the Board.  His dedication and steadying influence contributed greatly to the success of the company.

The Depression in the United States and the Dust Bowl of 1933 and 1934 plummeted the nation into a financial crisis.  Not surprisingly, insurance sales showed a dramatic decline.  Midland National, however, weathered the adverse conditions and remained optimistic about the future:
"Old 1933 with its depression, its 'hard times,' its sorrows and its tragedies, is now gone forever.  In its stead, we have a brand new year..."
- Acorns, January 1934, E.E. Kneedy, sales manager @ Midland National
MIdland National Life 1925 name
Stockholders official vote to change the company name to "Midland National Life Insurance Company" in 1925.

Name Changed to Midland National Life Insurance Company

In 1925, the stockholders voted unanimously to change the name to Midland National Life Insurance Company. The new name reflected the company’s efforts of expanding nationally.

For more on the history of Midland National, poke around the archives here.
Dakota Life's death claim register (seen below) illustrates the local impact of the worst epidemic to strike the world during the 20th century:  The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-1919.

This outbreak in the United States dramatically increased claims.

First appearing in crowded U.S. Army training camps in the Spring of 1918, the influenza virus soon spread to Europe and the rest of the world as American troops were shipped to the World War I battlefields of France.

Named the "Spanish Flu" because it claimed the lives of eight million (8,000,000) Spaniards, this strain of flu eventually killed between 20 and 30 million (20,000,000 to 30,000,000) people worldwide - far more than the number of people who died in battle in World War I.

In the United States, the dead numbered 500,000.  Two-thirds of Dakota Life's death claims received during 1918 were attributed to influenza and pneumonia.

Midland National Flu Outbreak

Midland National Death Claims
Claims register shows dramatic increase in death claims due to influenza and pneumonia in 1918-1919.

To see the story of the first death claim for Midland National (then named Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company) click here.

In 1915, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company dropped "Mutual" from their name and became the Dakota Life Insurance Company.

After operating for six years as a publicly-traded company, Dakota Life Insurance Company officially dropped "Mutual" from its name.

You can read the story of the company becoming a 'publicly traded company' here.

Later, in 1925, the company changed names again.  This time, becoming what they're known as today:  Midland National Life Insurance Company.

You can read all the posts involving name changes for the company here.
Midland National - A public company

In 1909, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company, which would, in 1925, change its name to Midland National Life Insurance Company, reorganized as a "publicly traded" company.

This was just three years after the founding of the company in 1906.  And just one year after the first death claim.

The reorganization as a publicly-traded stock company was done to make it easier to raise capital for continued growth.

Also, you can read the story of the "Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow" seal and campaign for the company here.
Midland National Death Claims
Midland National Death Claims

In 1908, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company (which would eventually be renamed to Midland National Life Insurance Company) saw the first death claim filed.

When the first death claim came early in 1908, it was necessary for Frank Bramble and John Hanten to borrow the funds needed to pay the claim.  Ironically, the company's first recorded death claim was on the life of Nettie Smith, wife of the company's original secretary-treasurer Fred Smith.

She died of appendicitis at the age of 38.  Compared to today, risk of death was higher in the early 1900's.  Many people died from a variety of infections and illnesses that seem minor or unknown today.

To read all the posts about Frank L. Bramble, click here.
To read all the posts about John Hanten, click here.
To read all the posts about Fred Smith, click here.
Midland National Seal with Oak Tree
"Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow" was the slogan adopted by the company in 1906.

In 1906, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company adopted a new slogan.  Symbolizing the philosophy of its founders, the slogan “Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow” used in the seal you see above.

To see the story of the founding of the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company - which would be renamed Midland National - click here.

Click here to see the history of all the marketing campaigns from Midland National's 110 year history.

In 1906, the Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded in Lead, South Dakota.  You can read the details of the founding of the company that became Midland National.  Less than a month after the founding, the directors of the company decided to relocate the company to Watertown, South Dakota.  

Among the new officers elected at that December 8th Board Meeting were two men who would help shape the company that would become Midland National for decades to come. 

First was John B. Hanten.  Mr. Hanten was elected president, a position he held for 19 years, relinquishing it only to become Chairman of the Board.  Originally a homesteader and farmer near Kranzburg, South Dakota, Hanten accumulated large landholdings in the area.  He moved to Watertown studied law, and was admitted to the South Dakota bar in 1892.  

John Hanten's business and community activities were numerous: he was the recipient of the United States land office in Watertown, State Senator, founder and president of Security National Bank and Hanten Bond company, and organizer of the Watertown Business Men's Union (now know as the Chamber of Commerce).  

In 1917, he was appointed to the commission that revised the state's laws into what is now known as the 1919 Code of South Dakota.  He was the state's Rural Credit Commissioner and South Dakota's delegate to the Democratic National Convention.  In his personal life, Hanten was the father of nine children.  He raised horses and was a talented musician who directed one of the first bands in the Dakota Territory.  

Another prominent individual elected to the Board at the December meeting was Frank L. Bramble, whose association with the company would eventually span six decades.  

To read the full set of posts about Frank L. Bramble and his work at Midland National, visit the "Frank Bramble" tag page.
Midland National Choses Watertown For HQ

Less than a month after their first official meeting (that took place in Lead, South Dakota), the directors of Dakota Mutual Life gathered again to reconsider the company's home office location.  Nothing the "necessity of locating the home office of this corporation in a city larger and of more importance," the board authorized Secretary Fred Smith "to negotiate with the cities of Watertown and Sioux Falls, SD and learn what inducements they are willing to grant to secure the location of the home office..."

Watertown offered more attractive "inducements," as the next meeting of Dakota Mutual Life was held in Watertown on November 17, 1906.  The board scheduled a meeting for December 8, at which time Watertown was named the official home office of the company.  You can see a photo of the original Watertown home office below.

Also of interest at this meeting: The board approved a surety bond through Western Surety Company of Sioux Falls, which eventually grew into the nation's largest bonding company and remains a prominent part of the Sioux Falls business community.

To read the story of the founding of Dakota Mutual Life - which became Midland National - click here.

Original Watertown office of Midland National
The original Watertown home office for the company that became Midland National Life.

The company that would eventually evolve into Midland National Life Insurance Company was born on a late summer evening in the Black HIlls of South Dakota.

Meeting at the Smead Hotel in Lead, South Dakota, a group of six men (John Walsh, Joseph Moore, Charles Turney, Claude Sterling, Daniel Bannister, and Fred Smith) elected officers for a company to be known as Dakota Mutual Life Insurance Company.  They also authorized the publishing of "legal notice of the company's intention to begin business."

The meeting culminated from months of planning.  Records show expenses dating from May 1906.  Evidently, the proposed name was under debate until shortly before the August meeting since a draft of the Articles of Incorporation was submitted to the South Dakota Secretary of State under the name of "Western Mutual Life Insurance Company."  The company was incorporated on August 30, 1906, and commenced business on September 4.

To capitalize the new company, the directors were required to apply for a $1,000 life insurance policy, and to pay an assessment of $300.
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