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Unum to keep Starmount brand name in Baton Rouge, with existing customers

Nearly two months after Tennessee-based Unum completed its $127 million purchase of H&J Capital, the parent company of Baton Rouge-based Starmount Life Insurance/AlwaysCare Benefits, Unum is preparing to roll out Starmount’s dental and vision products throughout its nationwide network.

Unum President Mike Simonds says the Starmount products will officially launch in January under the Unum brand. Locally, however, the Starmount name will remain.

“When we take it to market we will do so under the Unum brand, but we will maintain the Starmount brand for our Starmount customers,” says Simonds, who was visiting the Baton Rouge office earlier this week. “Here in Baton Rouge it is important to us that the signage on the building and the way employees identify themselves—we want to work to preserve that.”

Unum and Starmount announced the acquisition earlier this year. It closed Aug. 1.

Starmount was an attractive acquisition for Unum, which is one of the nation’s largest carriers of disability, group life and voluntary benefits, because Starmount specializes in an area that Unum did not—vision and dental.

“This was a business we wanted to be in,” Simonds says. “They have a strong dental and vision product and a strong network.”

Simonds says he believes there is tremendous growth potential for Unum’s new vision and dental products. The company’s five-year goal is to increase its dental and vision business from the $130 million that Starmount did last year to $500 million. A lot of that growth, at least initially, should come from the 100,000 existing Unum clients, mostly midsized and large employers across the U.S. Unum also does business under the Colonial Life brand, which sells to smaller employers.

“We can achieve our growth by cross selling and integrating our services,” he says.

Baton Rouge will remain a hub for Unum’s dental and vision benefits business for the foreseeable future. Unum has no plans to close the local office and relocate employees to Tennessee. On the contrary, Simons expects to “significantly increase” the 230 employees who work at the Starmount offices on Goodwood Boulevard.

Starmount was founded nearly 34 years ago by the Sternberg family. In 2015, patriarch Hans Sternberg passed the torch to his son, Erich Sternberg, now CEO, and Deborah Sternberg, the company’s president. At the time, the family had no plans to sell the company, they say. Under Unum’s ownership, Erich Sternberg and Deborah Sternberg remain in their current positions.

—Stephanie Riegel   

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