Bob Best is not the wacko I was referring to. He
had a short and altogether uneventful time at UNUM
(so I've heard), but I think he left on generally
good terms. Interesting that he is now in charge of
Talking about systems - the
reason for UNUM's large systems area is that UNUM has
undergone several big projects. We've had a large and very
successful Y2K campaign, and have moved on to our "Customer
Model" project. This new project has many pieces,
including new data warehousing, rewriting many systems to
use PCs vs. mainframes, internet systems, and
replacing the mish-mosh of PCs and the LAN we have with new
"Standard Technology" equipment. Our actual baseline
support area is much smaller than you might
And, yes, Provident's data center is to consolidate
with UNUM/Colonial in Columbia. From what info I've
gathered, they opted to move the smaller system to the
larger system, and make use of the newer, larger
facility. Also, I heard that the UNUM team voted for
Columbia and Provident voted for Tennessee, so IBM was
involved in picking the location.
But with all of
the trouble UNUM has had finding mainframe support
people, and being short-staffed there already (would you
agree, Blue Jay?), the next two years could be
interesting. I think that would be true in either location,
but it probably would have been worse in Tennessee -
again, they're moving the smaller system to the larger
system. Universities and colleges just aren't training
mainframers like they used to.
Keep in mind, as well,
that the Columbia staff is mostly mainframe support.
UNUM's LAN center is in Portland, Customer Model is in
Portland, as is the vast majority of mainframe programming
From everything I've heard, systems isn't going to be
shrinking by much. They've had to lift the hiring freeze
from time to time to get more systems folks. There's a
lot of work to be done to put two company's systems
Sorry, didn't mean to come across so strong... I
guess the point is to be able to find that balance of
the "perfect world" and the "ability to move forward
with the rest of the world". Let's face it, insurance
companies in general have a long-standing reputation of
moving slow, not keeping up with the rest of the
business world, bureaucracy, and strangling
competetiveness-reducing expense overhead levels.
I guess that my
point was that Chandler and Watjen realize this in
spades, and show a drive to get their company out of that
stale paradigm. In my opinion, this makes for a much
more exciting place to work too.
everyone at UNM and PVT co-operates and works well with
each other, especially in the short-term through the
transitional phase, then they will all win when their shares
start to fly.
Good luck in 1999!
I have been told by Colonial insiders that
post-merger all accounts over 100 employees will be given to
Provident? Colonial will then be restricted to the <100
employee account market. I have heard this from three
Anybody know the specifics? If
true, Colonial's field force will botl like lightning.
I agree that you will many employees look to get
out of UNUMProvident after the stocks vest. It could
be good news for people who are looking to get into
either company. I think more from UNUM will quit then
Provident. UNUM has been a very good company for so many
years. The employee there used to love their jobs. This
is changing drastically.
The merger may be
good for the investors, but for the employees it
As far as products are concerned, I just
hope the people left in ID Products in Portland can
convince the boss from Provident that Provident's product
are not good, and they use some version of the UNUM
and Paul Revere products in the future. They will
face an uphill battle, but the people in Portland are
the only ones with TRUE ID Product development
experience. They will be going against a HEADSTRONG Provident
boss and his staff of little to no experience. I wish
How right you are. I would not try to show happy
Harold how bad his products are, instead show how rates
could increase under guarantee renoewable. He will
never catch on, that this is really not a bad way to
purchase ID coverage. He will only look at potential rate
increases, not knowing states must first
They should also try to convince him that he needs
marketing people. This new venture can not allow sales to
drop off as much as first merger. Or maybe that is
what Harold wants. He knows he needs lots of capital
for new business, but he can save money by cutting
out talent and letting sales drop.
It is a
shame he has pulled this off twice. Lot's of talent
will leave with vesting.
It was my understanding that post-merger,
Colonial reps would be brought in-house with the group and
id reps as "voluntary reps" This was piloted in NY
and met with great sucess. The reps in New York State
are all doing very well and have benefit from closer
contact with group reps and collaboration. However, in
the latest staffing plan to come down I haven't heard
anything about Colonial.
Given the sucess of the
New York pilot I would think that management would
eventually move to that system. Seems as though they are
working out the Group-ID interaction and staffing plans
before they crack another nut. I would think that UNUM's
attitude would be that if AFLAC can be extremely
profitable so can UNUM; however, it is clearly not working
now and has been a drag on earnings and the stock
price. Since PVT shareholder will now have a stake in
the combined entity and knowing Chandler's shrewd
business sense I wouldn't be surprised if there are some
major shake ups long term. Short term, I think Colonial
will be largely ignored until the bumps and wrinkles
are ironed out with the office and field force
Any thoughts on Colonial's
You mentioned critical decisions for Customer
Can you give me a hint as to what
type of critical decisions
are being made?
Exactly what is Customer Model? Does it appear that
this area will be layed off?
What is Customer Model? Is it systems related?
What type of
critical decisions are being made?
Will this area receive alot
What are they doing with the dress code? Are they
all jobs at Unum or just specific
As intimidated as we all were at the beginning of
this merger, I think that most UNUM employees (myself
included) felt that this merger would be a good thing for
stockholders, ourselves, the company, Maine, and Portland. To
take an already successful company with 150 years of
insurance experience, a company that has faced huge
obstacles before and won, and merge it with a younger
individual company that has fought back from the brink of
disaster... There would be cuts, but it would only make a
strong company stronger.
I think we were wrong -
again, myself included. The above is what could have
happened. Now for something completely different. We
haven't taken the best of both worlds. In the beginning,
it was one for us, one for them. Now, ours are being
slowly removed and given back. We had the CIO - now he's
gone, and it goes to them. Today, it was announced that
JP Charlebois (father of UNUM Canada and new head of
UNUMProv Canadian operations) is "leaving" (his choice or
theirs?) and being replaced by a former Provident fellow.
I don't know what quarter-end
results will bring, I never do. But I don't particularly
like the way this new company treats it's employees.
The old UNUM is definitely gone (where have you been,
Jim Orr?). With it went the great morale, dedication
to the company, many good people, and to some extent
customer focus. It's not just the higher-ups that bring
value to the business, it's the little people too. One
can't live without the other.
And that's why I
sold my stock last week, at 56.5.
In spite of all of the lambasting of Chandler's
sales acumen, the one thru-line in most of these
messages is that the merger will be a win-win situation
These days, the corporate
machines are non-static and the millenium will see even
more changes in operations,etc. Harold's cut and paste
approaches will be put to the litmus test just like any
OTHER company's leader. The chicken's are gonna be
plucked, but the wings won't be clipped.
stock is destined to grow. When the dust settles and
the troops are focused, there's no where else to go
but UP. I think it's a safe thing to say that almost
everybody wants to make money.
to be reported Monday. I was simply replying to a
concern posted. "Booking business" is kind of a vague
statement and could lead one to believe that the books are
being cooked. I sincerely believe that this is not the
case. My statement was that even if they are reporting
business before it is "sold," it would affect neither the
income statement nor balance sheet. Now if the
implication is that this business is being listed as an A/R
item on the balance sheet, there would be serious
implications. UNUMProvident would not take that risk. That
would not be an acceptable GAAP or Statutory accounting
practice and could lead to very serious legal
ramifications. As much as Orr and Chandler want this stock price
to go up, they would not approve of this
Oh, there are always going to be whiners out here.
Check any of the message boards. Most are much worse
than this one. My point has always been that this
company is worth investing in right now. I'm not so sure
about it for a long-term investment because Chandler
does not have a track record for being able to grow
the top line. His focus has been on mergers and cost
reduction through them. As long as he can continue to do
that, you will see growth in the stock price.