May 01, 2012
'Insuring' Success: Goodall Gives Generously to Moore School
For Leon S. Goodall, ’49, Business Administration, ’50, Law, there’s no secret behind his success in leading two insurance companies—Colonial Life and Accidental Insurance Co., and the former Continental American Insurance Co.—to national prominence.
It took hard work and determination for a farm-raised youth in rural Gallatin, Tenn., to get ahead during the 1940s—plus an outstanding Carolina education resulting in two degrees.
“What is the American dream?” he asked students and alumni on hand for a spring 2012 Risk Management and Insurance Studies awards program. “For me, it was to start off with nothing, get a good education, work like the devil, take a few risks, and then you succeed.”
Honorary Chair of Moore School Capital Campaign Makes Numerous Gifts
Goodall has certainly “paid forward” on his success, giving generously to the Darla Moore School of Business
through its Carolina Fund, the school’s Dean’s Circle, the School of Law
Carolina Fund, and The Gamecock Club
. He has also provided a substantial gift toward a future Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the Moore School, which would tap industry and scholarly expertise to expand executive education curriculum.
Goodall is the Honorary Chair of the Moore school Carolina’s Promise Capital Campaign. He also contributed to the present Moore School of Business erected in 1970. Professional success and generosity toward his alma mater led to Goodall receiving the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1990—its highest honor given.
Amazing career accomplishments, advanced by educational opportunity, demonstrate his worthiness. Goodall enrolled at Carolina through the Navy’s V-12 program, similar to today’s ROTC. Following receipt of his business and law degrees, he held high-level management positions at Allstate Insurance Co. before joining Colonial Life and Accidental Insurance Co. in 1959. In his 10 years as agency vice president, and 10 more years as president until 1979, he led a company that doubled in size every four years.
Opportunities vs. Risk: Building His Own Business
Yearning for a new business challenge, Goodall formed the Continental American Insurance Co. in 1980 (previously Carolina Continental Insurance). Though 54 at the time—when many successful executives relax a bit and enjoy their golf games—“I had been dreaming for years of forming my own company and this was the opportunity,” he said.
At inception, Continental American Insurance existed in one state and held $50,000 in premium income. By the time Goodall sold the company to AFLAC in 2009, under its new name of AFLAC Group Insurance, he had achieved phenomenal sales by adding clients in nearly every state—and $100 million in total premium income.
“My father’s company is the only company that AFLAC has ever bought,” said Leon’s son, Chris Goodall
, who is CEO of AFLAC Group Insurance.
Leon continues on as chairman emeritus, while Chris, who joined Continental American in 1995 after practicing law, has “seamlessly” assumed the chief executive role, his father said.
Leon said one reason for his success came by happenstance in 1990, during a trip to Portugal with other company executives. He met an American Bankers Life Assurance Co. executive and the two entered a joint venture to spread their risk. The results were positive, and over the years, Goodall entered other joint ventures.
“Every one of you can do exactly what I did,” he told risk management students earning awards. “You have to lay out a plan and work at it.”
—Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications