Western & Southern Financial Group has named John H. Bultema III president and chief executive officer of Columbus Life Insurance Company. Bultema will succeed J.J. Miller, who is retiring effective October 2, 2020.
In addition to his new role, Bultema will continue to serve as president and chief executive officer of The Lafayette Life Insurance Company, a position he has held since November 2019. Bultema and Miller are working closely together to ensure a smooth transition. As part of his new role, Bultema is also working to craft an enterprise strategy for independent agent distribution. The strategy will be designed to preserve the distinct brands, solutions and distribution relationships of Columbus Life and Lafayette Life, while simultaneously gaining operating efficiencies for the companies that rely on independent agent distribution for all or a portion of their revenue. This will include the collaboration already underway to fully leverage opportunities created by Western & Southern’s 2018 acquisition of Gerber Life Insurance Company. Bultema will continue to report directly to Jill T. McGruder, Western & Southern senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
J.J. Miller joined the company in 1970 as an actuarial student. He was promoted to director of marketing research at Western & Southern Agency Group and rose through the ranks to become senior vice president and chief marketing officer, a position he held for 14 years. Miller moved to Corporate Development in 1996 and was promoted to president and chief executive officer of Columbus Life Insurance Company in 2007.
“J.J.’s efforts have helped propel the success of Western & Southern, most notably in the sales of the Continental General Insurance Company in 1999 and Integrated Investment Services, Inc. to J.P. Morgan in 2007,” said John F. Barrett, chairman, president and CEO of Western & Southern. “And at Columbus Life, he has overseen solid and sustained growth and improved operating performance.”
John Bultema joined Western & Southern in 2017 as the senior vice president of Institutional Markets, with responsibility for building institutional relationships in the pension risk transfer, bank-owned life insurance and other markets. Prior to joining Western & Southern, Bultema spent 22 years at Fifth Third Bank and Old Kent Bank, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including regional president and chief executive officer – Central Florida; regional president – Western Michigan; executive vice president – Business Banking Group; and executive vice president – Currency Processing and Treasury Management. Prior to his career in banking, Bultema ran his family’s marina business in Michigan. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and an MBA from Western Michigan University.
“John has tremendous leadership qualities that will help Western & Southern continue to be better at serving our agents and policyholders,” said Barrett. “We welcome John to his new role and wish J.J. many happy years in retirement.”