For some UR students, the idea of staying in Rochester after graduating may seem rather absurd. 

From the moment we frantically toss our tassels and walk the line, we are eager to hop in our parents’ car and sing “good-bye Genesee” all the way back home — yes, the Brain Drain problem is real.

But seldom have we thought of the reverse — that there are, in fact, people who come up from New York City in pursuit of opportunities that exist in Rochester’s job market. That is precisely what Darell Medford, of Primerica Incorporated, tried to do in March. 

Medford started working for Primerica, an insurance and financial advisory business, when he lived in Harlem, N.Y. He trained people in making financially savvy decisions by saving, investing and selecting insurance that would meet their needs and budgets.  

However, when his mother and identical twin moved to Rochester, Medford couldn’t help but feel a calling to come here. Additionally, he always wanted to work on his business with his twin. 

Once he was able to convince his brother to hop on board in February, he wasted no time breaking the distance barrier. Medford got his plane ticket and was ready for the Rochester market — one that he said was in striking need of services of his kind.

“We felt that there was a greater need for what we do here in Rochester and the opportunity just presented itself,” he said. “We visited Rochester and [saw] that there were people here [who needed] help with finding ways to work out their finances.”

 So far, his decision hasn’t failed him. Since making the transition to the old Genesee, he has been able to recruit 20 people to help him divvy up his heavy workload. 

Just last month, he was able to break a New York state record by getting eight people licensed to sell insurance in a single month. Medford continues to reflect on how surprised and grateful he is for his successful start in Rochester.

Naturally, a job of this sort can be fairly demanding. However, Medford stays committed to offering as much financial training as he can to the middle market, a market that he feels has often been neglected by the broader financial industry. 

But he is convinced that his tenure at Primerica will continue to grant him the opportunity to share what he has learned.

“In the past, the only people that helped with mutual funds or savings were guys on Wall Street,” he said. “But Primerica just takes the average Joe and says, ‘We don’t care about what degree you have. We’re not concerned with who you are.’ We give everyone the opportunity to come on board [at the] ground level, learn some great information, get educated about their own finances and start helping some other people improve their finances. It’s just a great opportunity.”

With a demanding job and a plethora of appointments stacked in his “write-it-on-paper” word pad, Medford has not had the typical leisure time that we may associate with slow moving Rochester. But he has been able to attend weekly religious services and squeeze in some iron-pumping minutes at the gym.

Perhaps the most influential trip he’s made since coming to Rochester has been to the George Eastman House.

“I was truly impressed by Mr. Eastman,” he said. “He inspired me. He’s a prime example of what hard work and determination can bring, because he started off with nothing. It had me thinking, if this guy can do it, then so can I.”

Fortunately, students that join his team have a lot more flexibility. He boasts that they are able to work part-time and earn anywhere between $500 to $1,000 a week, depending on the amount of work they put in. 

Additionally, they have the opportunity to get licensed to provide insurance and financial advice for free.

For that reason, he has been touring colleges in Rochester in search of new recruits. Last Friday, he paid a visit to Nazareth College, as well as UR’s Career Center. Medford believes that Primerica personifies many of the ideals that are taught in college.

“I think it promotes everything that college is about,” he said. “Teaming up with individuals, educating them, empowering them, and then teaming up with others. ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’ — that’s the definition of team.”

Primerica was started in 1977 by Rick Williams, a former high school football coach. He started the company after his father invested a large amount of money in a life insurance policy that wound up returning a lot less than he expected. For the past 30 years, Primerica has added additional insurance advisory services that target the middle market.

While they were owned by CitiGroup for the past 10 years, they have returned to being independent this year and are currently opened on the New York Stock Exchange.

The current president, Glenn Williams, continues to encourage Primerica employees to help their clients make financially secure and profitable decisions. 

As Medford and his team train Rochester residents and teach them how to get the best bang for their buck in financial endeavors, he continues to look for entrepreneurial-minded college students to seize the opportunity to make it big in Rochester. Medford recalled one story of a Primerica employee who started working with the company while he was taking 18 credits and working full-time at Best Buy. Now he’s reportedly making six-figures with the company. 

 Perhaps Brain Drain can be draining your own pockets by choosing to leave a live market.



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