MARSHALL - At age 61, Dan Markell of Marshall found himself downsized out of his job.
It was just pure coincidence, he said, that he e-mailed Rep. Marty Seifert on a whim at 10:30 one night. Markell's wife Arlene had e-mailed Seifert in the past on educational issues. Markell e-mailed Seifert asking if he had any ideas about what he could do for a job.
"At 11 p.m., he answered back with, 'Are you Catholic?'" Markell said.
Photo by Cindy Votruba
Dan Markell covers Cottonwood to Pipestone and through Wanda, Wabasso, Lucan and other towns in the area in his job with the Catholic Aid Association.
Seifert mentioned a possible position as a field representative for the Catholic Aid Association. Markell was interviewed by Mike Bredeck, CAA regional manager, at the Daily Grind.
"I was referred to the director of sales," Markell said. "They wanted me to come to St. Paul (for an interview) and asked if they'd meet me halfway."
So Markell had his second interview at Cactus Jacks' in Stewart, and on April 1 started his new career.
And he's signed up more than 80 new members for Catholic Aid in the last six months.
Markell said he's one of few Catholic Aid Association agents who lives in the community.
"They hired me under the condition I get licensed by the state," Markell said.
Markell had to attend a two-week class through Kaplan University in order to get his licensure.
"That was kind of a challenge because I hadn't been to school for 40 years," Markell said.
Markell passed the test on his first try.
"Then I had to go back to school at the home office to learn about the business, learn the products," Markell said.
He started going on appointments with his manager.
"My first appointment was a death claim," Markell said.
With Catholic Aid Association, Markell doubts he'll do any doorknocking to get new members.
"We get referrals, that's where we'll get 99 percent of the business," Markell said.
At his other job, Markell said he was always talking to people, but mostly within the company.
"Now, it's a new customer every day," Markell said. "It's a lot of driving, but I'm home every night."
He's also become the first rookie to be leading in new customer sign-up with Catholic Aid Association, Markell said.
Markell's territory runs from Cottonwood to Pipestone and through Wanda, Wabasso, Lucan and other towns in the area. He said a lot of his new customers are third and fourth generation referrals.
"Each of these parishes have councils where Catholic Aid Association does its fund-raisers," Markell said.
Through his new job, Markell said he's learned more about annuities and what insurance can do. He even signed his three grandchildren up.
"By the time they're school-aged, college, they'll have a nice slush fund to work from," Markell said.
Markell said he doesn't know if it was luck, hard work or divine intervention that led him to his new career path, but, he said, "It's been very rewarding."