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History: Did You Know

In 1976, the company sponsored a float in the Iowa State Fair parade. The float featured a 15 ft. eagle standing in front of a replica of the Declaration of Independence. It won first place for the best use of the bicentennial theme.

When he died, founder Edward Temple, left a bequest to establish a memorial to perpetuate the memories of seven Iowa pioneers. In 1912, company president E.E. Clark, presented the bronze memorial table to the Iowa Historical Building in memory of George Forest Temple (Temple's father) and other pioneers who helped carve out a new life on the Iowa frontier.

In 1912, not only were insurance policies were hand written, but applications for life insurance were copied by hand as well. The company's policy department included policy writers and application copiers, all of whom had to have exceptional penmanship.

On Feb. 13, 1935, President Gerard S. Nollen, at his desk in the home office, signed an application which was converted into Bankers Life Policy No. 1,000,000. Issuing of the one-millionth policy to President Nollen is of special significance as the first Bankers Life policy was issued on July 1, 1879, to first president and founder Edward A. Temple.

During the Des Moines flood of 1993, Group and Pension customer Community Bank of Homestead, Fla. had 1,200 gallons of drinking water shipped to The Principal.

In 1936, the company's direct mail advertising campaign was named one of the top 50 campaigns by the Direct Mail Advertising Association.

While it was only 48 years old in 1928, the company ranked 18th among all life insurance companies with respect to assets. The average age of the other companies with comparable assets, according to the Compendium of Official Life Insurance Reports, was 74.1 years.

Edward Temple, founder of the company, served as its president for 30 years.

In May 1980 the company participated in the "Iowa Freedom Day," an event to promote energy conservation by using alternative means of transportation to commute to work. That day, 988 company employees carpooled, took the bus, rode their bikes, walked or jogged to work.

The Principal Financial Group first entered the international arena in 1990 by opening an office in Madrid, Spain.

In 1951, the company entered a contract with a KCBC radio station to install background music throughout the workplace in order to reduce fatigue and to increase employee output. It was known as Muzak.

The Principal Financial Group owned WHO Radio from 1925 to 1930.

When it opened in 1990, 801 Grand in Des Moines was the tallest building between Denver and Chicago and Minneapolis and Tulsa.

In 1964, The Tampa Tribune noted that company agent, Tommy Gomez, the top-ranking world heavyweight contender in 1951, donned his gloves once again to promote an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) boxing program in Tampa. Gomez's loss in a final qualifying bout kept him from a championship match with Joe Lewis.

Principal Bank was launched in the late 1990s as one of the first stand-alone Internet banks.

The Principal Finnancial Group suggested the name "Nollen Plaza" for the outdoor park and performance area in recognition of the Nollen family, influential leaders of central Iowa's commercial and educational development. Gerard and Henry Nollen played significant roles in the development of the company.

The first small group plan offered to companies with 10-25 employees was issued to Pardue Candy Company of Dallas, Texas in 1955.

801 Grand, in Des Moines, Iowa, owned by the Principal Financial Group, is Iowa's tallest commercial building.

The Principal Financial Group became a public company in October 2001 with its debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1927 the Principal Financial Group became the first insurance company to use direct mail advertisements.

Some community programs in Des Moines the Principal Financial Group has been involved in include the skywalk system, the Civic Center, Nollen Plaza, and, recently, The Principal Riverwalk.

Nollen Plaza in Des Moines, Iowa, was named and dedicated in 1979 for brothers Henry and Gerard Nollen in recognition of their contribution to the insurance industry in Des Moines. Henry was the company's first actuary and served as secretary. He was instrumental in moving the company from an association to a mutual insurance company. Younger brother Gerard succeeded Henry as secretary of the company and became president in 1926. He served the company for 20 years.

In 1983, the company was named Employer of the Year by the Iowa Governor's Committee for Hiring the Handicapped.

Since 1959, the Principal Financial Group has "loaned out" at least one employee every year to the United Way.

Corporate One at 711 High St. in Des Moines, Iowa was the first office building in Des Moines to be completely air-conditioned.

In 1987, the company formalized its long-standing practice of charitable giving when it established the Principal Financial Group Foundation, Inc.

During the Flood of 1993, the Principal Financial Group gave $1 million to local relief efforts and employees raised $100,000 in personal donations. Nearly 1,000 employees volunteered almost 11,500 hours of their time to help.

A full-page ad placed in the Nov. 3, 1934, issue of The Saturday Evening Post made the Principal Financial Group one of the first companies to begin a national advertising program.

During the Great Depression, Bankers Life formed "The Grant of Possession Policy" to prevent the need to foreclose on farms. The policy allowed farmers who couldn't meet payments to lease the farm to Bankers Life, but still live and work it rent-free. This policy helped the company maintain many customers who would have otherwise lost their homes.

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