Marsh, Mercer to consolidate operations

50 Marsh jobs transferring from Newton to Urbandale

One of the world’s leaders in risk management and consulting, insurance broking, alternative risk financing and insurance program management will be relocating its Newton office, along with approximately 50 jobs, in the first quarter of 2014.

Marsh, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, announced Wednesday it will be consolidating its operations with Mercer, another MMC subsidiary. All of the Newton jobs will transfer to a Mercer facility in Urbandale.

The Newton office’s final day of operation will be Feb. 28.

“The Newton facility serviced business that will now be serviced by Mercer and consolidated at Mercer’s primary operations center in Urbandale,” Marsh Senior Vice President for U.S. Media Relations Sally Roberts said. “No jobs are being eliminated and all employees have been given the opportunity to transfer to the Urbandale center.”

Marsh, which was founded in 1871, was an innovator in the insurance industry, introducing client representation through brokerage, the discipline of risk management, the globalization of insurance and risk management services and many other innovative tools and service platforms. It generated roughly 45 percent of MMC’s total operating revenue in 2012.

Just three years ago, the company considered a major expansion of its Newton office, right at a time when community leaders were looking for every bit of good news it could find. It made the announcement in October 2010, two weeks after Windstream had announced it was cutting 146 jobs and would try to sell the former Maytag Corporation headquarters.

The same day as Marsh’s announcement, a crew from the television news program “60 Minutes” was in town. The crew was filming its now-notorious segment about life in Newton following the loss of Maytag.

Marsh proposed a $5.3 million expansion that would bring up to 150 new jobs to Newton. The jobs could have ranged from accounting and marketing to call center-type positions. Company officials also expressed interest in the former Maytag corporate offices.

State and local economic development officials were ready to pony up more than $500,000 in incentives to see the project happen. But, a few months later, city officials were told the expansion plans were put on hold.

Newton Development Corporation Executive Director Frank Liebl said he was “surprised but not surprised” by the announcement. He said he has been working with Marsh officials since 2010 in the hope of renewing the expansion effort.

“We have been working on and off with Marsh since the last quarter of 2010. Shortly after that announcement they had a major shake-up in their leadership and put the plans on hold,” he said. “We showed them available sites for expansion and even had representatives from San Francisco and New York in Newton to look at facilities ... We stayed in touch with their lead realtor on a regular basis.”

Liebl said he spoke with Matt Seifert, the managing director for both the Urbandale and Newton offices just last month.

“He told me there was a merger underway,” he said. “He didn’t indicate any changes in their operations at that time and said he was extremely pleased with the personnel in the Newton office.”