By Maria Saporta
Friday, June 17, 2011
Primerica Inc. is having its own debut party this weekend.
That’s when 40,000 of its employees and sales force will descend on the Georgia Dome for its biennial convention that begins Friday, June 17 — generating a $44 million economic impact.
It will be Primerica’s first convention in Atlanta since its newfound independence as a stand-alone insurance and financial services company. On April 1, 2010, the company split off from Citigroup (NYSE: C), and it is now an independent Duluth, Ga.-based company (NYSE: PRI). It had not been independent since 1990.
The opening event will be especially moving. The company’s original founder — Art Williams — will be a featured speaker, the first time he’s appeared and spoken at a company event since he sold the company in 1990.
Williams, who was born in Cairo, Ga., started the life insurance company — A.L. Williams & Associates — in 1977, a move that made him one of Georgia’s first billionaires.
Primerica’s co-CEOs, Rick Williams (no relation to Art Williams) and John Addison, wanted Art Williams to be part of its convention celebration of Primerica’s independence.
“John and Rick just wanted to pay tribute to the fact that this is the man who founded the company 34 years ago,” said Primerica spokesman Mark Supic. “Without his idea and without his tenacity to take on an industry, Primerica wouldn’t be here today.”
Supic described the 2010 IPO that turned Primerica back into an independent company as a “re-founding” of the company.
“Since this is the first convention since the re-founding of the company, we felt it was time to honor the person who originally founded the company,” Supic added.
Friday night will be special in other ways as well.
Primerica will launch its new corporate foundation, and it will make its first donation to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at the Georgia Dome on Friday. The company is making a $50,000 donation to the Centers of Hope, a program championed by Reed to give young people a place to go for educational and recreational activities. The grant will go toward financial literacy programs offered in the Centers of Hope.
In return, Reed will present Primerica with the Phoenix Award for the company’s contributions in metro Atlanta.
Since 2002, Primerica has donated millions of dollars to community organizations. Its employees also volunteer with several nonprofits in Gwinnett and the Atlanta region, including Relay for Life, United Way, the American Cancer Society, Adopt an Angel, food drives, Meals on Wheels and blood drives.
The Primerica convention will be Atlanta’s largest convention for 2011. The last convention was held in 2007. The company canceled its 2009 convention because of the economic downturn.
“It’s great to have Primerica back in Atlanta,” said William Pate, CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, in a statement. “We knew financial conventions would be back, once things settled down. Now, we’re happy to see that business segment returning with a longtime customer, Primerica, leading the way.”
The convention is expected to attract Primerica representatives from all 50 states as well as Canada and Puerto Rico.
It will include workshops, meetings and exhibits and will be held in all three wings of the Georgia World Congress Center and the Georgia Dome over several days.
Primerica insures 4.3 million lives and maintains the investment accounts of more than 2 million clients.