Business

Western Fraternal Life delegates approve merger

New company will be based in Madison, Wis.

Craig Van Dyke
Craig Van Dyke

A long time Cedar Rapids fraternal life insurance organization has agreed to a merger that will close its office here next year.

Delegates representing Western Fraternal Life Association, a 117-year-old Cedar Rapids not-for-profit financial services organization, have approved a merger with National Mutual Benefit, a Madison, Wis., life insurance society.

The boards of directors of the companies approved the merger in January. The WFLA delegates approved the consolidation earlier this month.

The merger is intended to occur on Jan. 1, 2021, with integration to be completed throughout 2021. The process of combining the two companies will begin this month.

Craig Van Dyke, president and CEO of WFLA, and Dan Shinnick, president and CEO of National Mutual, will lead the combined organization through the transition.

Don Nieland, WFLA vice president of information technology and corporate secretary, said all operations will move to the new corporate headquarters in Madison, and WFLA’s 27 employees have been guaranteed employment through the end of this year.

The Cedar Rapids office will be closed after the integration is completed and WFLA employees will be offered an opportunity to apply for positions in Madison, where National Mutual employs 45, Nieland said.

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The combined organization will have more than 60,000 members across the Midwest, western and southern regions of the United States and approximately $2 billion of life insurance and annuities in-force.

”This truly the best thing for our members,” Nieland said. “It provides us with opportunities of scale that we wouldn’t have otherwise. The projections show it will save between $2 million and $3 million each year that the organization can invest in new technologies, new sales platforms, new products and new fraternal programs for communities where our members live.”

The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids will continue to receive support from the combined organization, he said.

“Our lodges will continue to do the Czech festivals and things they do to preserve Czech heritage,” he said.

Western Fraternal Life Association, 1900 First Ave. NE, was established in 1897 as Zapadni Ceska Bratrska Jednota, or Western Bohemian Fraternal Association. At the organization’s 1971 national convention, members voted to change the name to Western Fraternal Life Association.

National Mutual Benefit was started in 1902. The name for the combined organization will be announced at a later date.

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