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National Life Adds More Jobs After A Record Year

VPR/Melody Bodette
Mary Putnam (l) of National Life Group talks with Brandy Rexford at the company's job fair.

National Life Group is adding more than 30 new jobs at its Montpelier headquarters.

In the late 1990s the company made significant job cuts, but it says the new positions reflect a steady growth in recent years.

National Life is filling 100 jobs in all; about one third are new positions, ranging from housekeeping to company vice-presidents.

To attract candidates Angela Kiniry organized the company’s first job fair in six years.

“For our higher level jobs that require industry experience, most likely we’re not going to be able to find that talent in Vermont,” says Kiniry. “Our other jobs will absolutely be filled in Vermont.”

More than 300 people turned out at Thursday’s job fair. Among them was Brandy Rexford of Marshfield.

"We don't expect this growth to be a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of growth. We see this as continuing." - National Life Group CEO Mehran Assadi.

Rexford says she wants something more stable than her current retail job. She says her friends who work at National Life are happy there and she’s also attracted by professional development opportunities at the company.

“I really just want to start in something entry level where they can help me grow,” says Rexford. “ I’m really interested in the National Life University that they have to help people grow.”

National Life Group currently employs just over 700 people in Vermont. That’s down from a high of 1,200.

Downsizing through layoffs and early retirements reduced the workforce in the late 1990s. The number was further reduced due to layoffs when information technology jobs were outsourced.

The added jobs are a reflection of recent company growth.  Last year was a record setting year in terms of net income, total assets and life insurance and annuity sales.

“Although it appears as an overnight success, this is something that has been in the works for the past three to five years,” says National Life Group CEO Mehran Assadi.  “We don't expect this growth to be a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of growth. We see this as continuing."

Assadi says National Life’s growth is being sparked by the financial services the company provides to middle income consumers, who’ve been an underserved group. 

“Traditionally 90 percent of the planners and financial advisors focused on 10 percent of the population.  The key question is 'who is taking care of the 90 percent'?  The need is there, the opportunities are there,” he says.

The National Life building stands prominently on a hilltop at the edge of Montpelier. But the firm itself keeps a fairly low profile despite being one of the state’s largest companies.  

That may be changing. This summer National Life plans to hold its first outdoor music festival. The proceeds will benefit a Central Vermont cancer treatment center that bears the company's name.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
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