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Long-term investment

February 27, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Todd Bock knew that there had been representatives of Northwestern Mutual Insurance in Marshall for a long time. But he didn't expect what he found when he checked into the oldest policy he had on file. A letter tucked into the policy envelope dates the business' presence in the area back more than a century.

"We've gone almost 134 years with a representative in Marshall," said Bock, a Northwestern Mutual advisor. And that wasn't all - the writing agent on the letter was a Marshall historical figure, Eben R. Jewett. Jewett Street, where the Northwestern Mutual office is currently located, was named for the Jewett family.

The oldest insurance policy filed at the Marshall office of Northwestern Mutual was signed in 1911, Bock said. In the past, the Marshall office of Northwestern Mutual has used that date as a benchmark for the business' age. However, while reading through the paperwork in the policy envelope, Bock discovered it was a little too late for centennial celebrations.

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Photo by Deb Gau

Todd Bock of Northwestern Mutual Insurance in Marshall, holds up the oldest insurance policy the business has on file. The document dates to 1911, although recently Bock found an older letter to the policy holder, going back to 1904. The policy was written by Eben R. Jewett, the early Marshall businessman for whom Jewett Street was named.

Among the papers was a letter to the policy's owner, dated May 27, 1904, which referenced a dividend being paid on an older policy. "It must have been just inside the policy jacket," Bock said.

With some help from Northwestern Mutual archives department, Bock learned the original writing agent of the policy was Eben R. Jewett. Jewett was contracted in Marshall on Oct. 31, 1878, and had a business partner, Charles W. Andrews, Bock said.

"Evidently they were attorneys, but they also sold life insurance through Northwestern Mutual," he said. The coincidence of the current Northwestern Mutual office, which was built in the 1980s, being on Jewett Street was a big surprise. "I had no idea of the connection," he said.

Northwestern Mutual's history goes back to the company's founding in 1857 in Janesville, Wis. Later, the company headquarters were moved to Milwaukee. That makes the company older than the state of Minnesota, and helps explain the company's name. At the time, Bock said, "It was the northwesternmost state. There was nothing beyond Wisconsin."

While it started as a life insurance company, Northwestern Mutual has grown into a financial services company offering a broader range of services and benefits. Today, the Marshall office of Northwestern Mutual has more than 4,300 policies in force, with more than $3 million in dividends paid out in 2011, Bock said.

Bock said it was meaningful to him to be part of a bigger tradition in the Marshall community.

"It is powerful. Our goal is to build enduring relationships," he said, and it seems evident that Northwestern Mutual has endured in the area. "We're standing on really broad shoulders."

The tradition is one that includes his own predecessor, the late Bernie Archbold, who was with Northwestern Mutual for almost 50 years, and brought Todd into the business in 1996. "He made such a profound impact on our community," Bock said.



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