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Sour economy means flurry of hiring at MassMutual in Memphis


(Memphis, TN) - In a business where 70 percent of new recruits quit before they’ve spent two years on the job, Memphis insurance man Donald E. Helms has found a way to not only keep people, but help them rise to the highest levels of the industry - in pay and stature.

“Don’s record of success is well above the industry average. Most agency leaders are happy if they can develop one or two front line leaders; he’s developed nearly a dozen,” said Burv Pugh, Senior Vice President for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company.

During his 30-year career, Helms has hired and groomed nine people to become agency heads. Two went on to become corporate vice presidents.

“He has an extraordinary ability to attract very talented people and develop them into successful professionals in the industry,” said Pugh.

The 56-year old Helms - born in Memphis - has spent the last thirty years traveling the south east region of the country helping major insurers grow their talent pool.

Now this native son has returned home to Memphis where he plans to help MassMutual build its Career Agent System by recruiting new talent in the area.

“I’ve able to find people who have the right characteristics and skills to do the job; I’m blessed and lucky enough to have recruited the right people over the years,” said Helms, General Agent of MassMutual’s Memphis agency - Memphis MidSouth Financial Group.

“Whenever I meet with people I plant the seed and am thinking about whether they would make great managers - are they good leaders,” he continued.

Helms has been an insurance agent, sales manager, managing partner, and zone vice president of a territory with 35 agencies in 11 states.

Recently, changes in the insurance industry have led to consolidation; fewer agents helping a growing number of people looking for advice.

“Some companies have lost the personal touch and are only using direct mail and email campaigns to reach people. That’s wrong. Planning is a deeply personal matter; people face unique situations where trained professionals add a lot of value,” said Helms.

“You can’t help people if all you’re running is a direct mail campaign or automated responses. I have a rare chance to put a lot of good professionals in Memphis, to spend time with people one-on-one, and help them become more successful,” said Helms.

Helms has spoken widely about his unique approach toward recruiting and retaining top talent. He’s won corporate and industry awards, and holds influential positions on national associations and boards.

“Don is passionate about what he does. This is a major coup for MassMutual. Many people consider him a legend at his previous employers because he was so successful. And some of them have already called him for a job,” said Pugh.

“We have a great and special guy now in Memphis.”


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