Drive along Golf Course Road in Baxter and a familiar sign now bears a different name as the letters announcing Universal Pensions have been replaced by BISYS.
On June 1, Universal Pensions Inc. founder Arnie Johnson presided over an emotional company meeting in the Brainerd High School gym. About 450 employees attended. After a quarter century of building Universal Pensions Inc., Johnson announced the multi-million dollar sale of his company to a public retirement services corporation based in New Jersey.
BISYS Group Inc. bought UPI for about $85 million.
At the June meeting, Johnson, UPI founder, owner and chief executive officer, said the growth options for the merged company were "incredible." Johnson announced he was leaving UPI but would remain a company consultant. At the time he said after founding the company and seeing it through 26 years, staying on for any changes would be too difficult. In remarks that at times were charged with emotion, Johnson said he made the decision to sell UPI to help the company grow.
"At that time I made the toughest decision in my life," Johnson said, his voice breaking. "To find the right company for UPI to merge with. ... I had to find a company that would not only be good for clients but good for employees and good for the Brainerd lakes area that I love so much."
Johnson said he would not have made the decision if not for the firm belief that BISYS will be in the Brainerd area for the long term.
Chris Guarino, president of BISYS Retirement Services division, one of the company's three main operating divisions, said the company's future growth will be located in Brainerd.
Guarino said initially there would be lost jobs because of redundant systems in the merged companies. Days later the company announced it was laying off 30 employees. Layoffs affected employees in marketing, human resources, finance, legal and information technology areas. In August, three top-level UPI employees left the company in what corporate officials called a clarification of duties.
UPI's name changed to BISYS Retirement Services. The Brainerd operation works with the Ambler, Pa., BISYS operation in the Retirement Services division. The BISYS Group has its headquarters in Little Falls, N.J. In June, UPI employed 480 and of that number 460 were in Brainerd and Baxter. In August, the company employed about 450 in the lakes area. BISYS employs 4,500 nationwide.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.