Janesville59°

Northwestern is a major player in insurance industry

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JAMES P. LEUTE
October 26, 2007
— Often referred to as “The Quiet Company,” The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.’s growth in the 150 years since its founding in Janesville has been anything but muted.

The Milwaukee-based company has more than $1 trillion of life insurance protection in force and maintains the highest available ratings for insurance financial strength from all four major rating agencies: Standard & Poor’s, Fitch Ratings, A. M. Best and Moody’s.


The Northwestern Mutual Financial Network is the marketing name for the company’s nationwide sales distribution arm that provides life insurance, long-term care insurance, disability insurance, annuities, mutual funds and employee benefit services.


Founder John Johnston is long gone, but Northwestern still serves Janesville through The Lueder Financial Group, directed by Matthew Lueder in offices in Janesville and Rockford.


While Johnston and his colleagues labored from 1857 to 1859 to sell the $200,000 in life insurance needed to incorporate the company, Northwestern’s local office can generate similar numbers in a heartbeat.


The district has more than 18,000 policies in force, covering nearly 11,000 people. The face value of those policies is $1.5 billion, said Margo Hokanson, Northwestern’s corporate relations manager.


When Lueder moved to Janesville in 2002 to re-establish Northwestern in Rock County, he likened himself to the pioneer Johnston.


“The philosophy hasn’t changed at all,” Lueder said. “The company is based on integrity and doing what’s in the best interest of our policy holders.”


That’s easier with no stockholders to answer to, he said.


“The company never set out to be the largest, but it set out to be the strongest and safest, and in doing that, we’ve become one of the largest,” he said. “We haven’t done it overnight. We tend to look at what’s good over the next quarter century, not what’s good for the next quarter.”


Lueder’s offices in Janesville and Rockford have 15 financial representatives and 15 college interns.


“My vision is that in the next five years, we have the capacity for 50 representatives,” he said. “We have a great opportunity to build this company back up in this area.”


Just as John Johnston did 150 years ago.



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