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.
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.
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.