New Sons of Norway CEO Christopher Pinkerton is focusing on keeping the fraternal insurance and international cultural organization growing and connected as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.
Pinkerton joined the nonprofit Sons of Norway as chief operating officer in 2018 with more than 20 years of experience as a senior leader in executive positions at insurance companies including Nationwide and Allianz Life of North America.
The International Board of the Sons of Norway named Pinkerton CEO in March, combining the CEO and COO roles. Pinkerton replaced Eivind Heiberg, who had served as CEO since 2009.
"The opportunity for growth exists if we continue to focus our efforts on things that are relevant to our members today," Pinkerton said.
As COO, Pinkerton developed affordable insurance and annuity products that boosted sales by 195%. The number of independent agents offering Sons of Norway products rose from 50 to more than 700. The organization holds $365 million in assets in 38 states.
Sons of Norway also is adapting social activities in light of the coronavirus pandemic, said Pinkerton, who earned an MBA from Xavier University.
The organization has 50,000 members in nearly 300 lodges in the United States, Norway and Canada. About two-thirds are social members while the rest also hold insurance policies.
On June 22, Sons of Norway is to move into its new headquarters in the Daymark Uptown apartments.
Sons of Norway's previous home office occupied the Daymark site on W. Lake Street site for decades before selling the property for development. Sons of Norway, with 50 employees, spent the past two years in Minnetonka.
Sons of Norway got its start in 1895 when 18 Norwegian immigrants pooled their resources to protect members and families from financial hardships.
Q: What's next for Sons of Norway?
A: We've modified our insurance focus to deliver something meaningful to members at a price they can afford. The same thing goes for the community aspect. How does one stay relevant in a post-COVID world? A key part of our growth strategy is defining how the membership services need to change to acknowledge that people may not want to get together in groups in the same way as they have.
Q: How has the pandemic affected the 125th anniversary celebration?
A: We did have a celebration in our short-term office space with members in the area. We had planned and still plan to have those types of celebrations in various lodges and in the new home office. We may continue celebrating into 2021 and 2022. It gives us a chance to talk about the mission of the organization, how we've evolved and what people have to be proud of in terms of building the organization over 125 years.
Q: To what would you attribute Sons of Norway's longevity?
A: When it started, the insurance was offered out of necessity because they couldn't purchase it another way. Over time the mission has been much more social. We definitely want to maintain that but at a time when there are many people that haven't done adequate planning for retirement or making sure they're not stricken if a family member passes away, we want to push taking care of yourself, taking care of your family but also learning about your past and celebrating the community that we've got.
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.