Every company needs a parent. Direct Benefits and Spirit Dental & Vision working together.
Serving as an online storefront, Spirit Dental & Vision is operated by Direct Benefits, Inc., a managing general agency that provides full-service, one-stop benefits brokerage for dental, disability, life and vision insurance plans to more than 5,000 employee benefits agents, brokers, consultants and online consumers nationwide.
No matter if you’re an agent or an online consumer, if you’re looking for the best individual and small group private label products in the country as well as a variety of brand name employee benefits carriers, then Direct Benefits is your source for dental, disability, life and vision benefits.
Tom Mayer - Founder of Direct Benefits
Tom Mayer is an energetic and resourceful professional with more than 25 years' business experience, predominantly with entrepreneurial growth firms.
He has founded five companies including Kid for Rent lawn service, which he started at age 11. His second endeavor was White Wolf Maintenance, a cleaning restoration company. In 1991, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., Tom sold the business to his brother, Pat, who still owns White Wolf today.
Tom then co-founded and grew the Five Star Gourmet Meat Company into a $4 million home-delivery business with 90 employees. Five Star was featured in publications including Forbes, Success, and Twin Cities Business Monthly. In 1995, Tom sold his interest in Five Star so that he could attend the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management and earn his MBA in marketing and strategy in 1997. During graduate school, Tom started Superior Foods, Inc. and happily sold frozen foods door-to-door out of his 1995 Nissan Pathfinder until he entered the employee benefits field in 1999.
Tom founded Direct Benefits, Inc., in June of 2001. Direct Benefits is a managing general agency that specializes in distributing dental, disability, life and vision benefits to more than 2,700 agents, brokers, consultants and general agents nationwide. Tom and his staff have helped our agents write more than 6,000 employer groups and thousands of individual clients.
Tom served as the Retention Chair for Region 4 of the National Association of Health Underwriters from 2006 to 2009. In fact, he won the NAHU's National Recruiter of the Year Award in 2007, 2008 and 2009. His hobbies include backpacking, cooking, dog sledding, kayaking, mountaineering, rabbit hunting, reading, scuba diving, traveling, trout fishing, and tubing with his gas-powered blender. His favorite foods are Nueske's applewood-smoked bacon and oatmeal raisin cookies.
Born and raised in Minneapolis and a graduate of South High School, Jodie participated in the infamous "Work Program" and landed her first job at Dr. Brackney & Associates. After graduation she continued working full-time at the dental office for 5 years until the birth of her first child. Jodie became a stay at home mom until her children were full-time students. Then she went back to school and earned her M.S.C. degree at Saint Paul Technical College. After working at Affiliated Reconstructive & Cosmetic Plastic Surgery for several years, Jodie was lured into the insurance industry in 1999. At Corporate Benefit Services of America (CBSA), she spent 7 years in the administration services only (self-funded), new business processing and underwriting departments and 1 year at Insurance Administrators Corporation (IAC). She has enjoyed working in this field ever since.
Carrissa joined Direct Benefits after more than 12 years in the healthcare and insurance industries. Her career path has included working for companies like Diversified Pharmaceutical, SmithKline Beecham, UnitedHealthCare and Delta Dental Plan of Minnesota. She's worked her way up from member materials to contract installations, proposals, and underwriting and now, finally, to sales. Carrissa's role at Direct Benefits is to wear all those hats and more. She takes pride in providing creative and responsive solutions to our agents and then making sure everything is processed smoothly for their clients.
Carrissa enjoys being active outside the office, too. Her hobbies include traveling, motorcycling, volleyball and the occasional remodeling project around her house. In her downtime she loves to catch up on the latest movies, HGTV, Boston Legal and Grey's Anatomy.
Shelly Kramer has been in the dental insurance industry for over 10 years. At Capital Benefits Groups she served as an internal operations manager working with customer service, inside sales and marketing, new business enrollment and plan design development as well as helping agents with their renewals. In addition to working at Direct Benefits as our "Benefits Shaman", she works part-time as a 2nd degree Reiki (energy work) practitioner.
Shelly has been an active member of NAHU since 2004 and has also taught Ancillary Benefits Class' at Kaplan Financial Education. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with the Angel Foundation and Toastmasters CC. Shelly's hobbies include building Faerie houses, cooking, gardening, kick boxing, yoga and making the world a better place by laughing as much as possible.
Prior to joining Direct Benefits, Barbara worked as a nurse at St. Joseph's and United Hospitals in St. Paul. She moved onto raising her 3 children and in 1997 began her full-time insurance career with State Farm. While at State Farm she worked in sales and customer service in Property/Casualty, Life/Health, expanding to bank products and commercial insurance. In 2007 Barbara moved to Capital Benefits Group and employee benefits. Her many duties included sales, marketing, project management, administration and customer service. She joined Direct Benefits in 2012 as a member of the Individual Dental & Vision team.
Barbara has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and is NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified as a personal trainer and yoga teacher. She enjoys reading, the never ending quest of learning, yoga, kickboxing, weight lifting and spending time with her children, family and friends. The "real" reason for joining Direct Benefits was to conceal her true identity--- Cindy Crawford.
Paulette Kotila has been active in insurance for seventeen years and began her career in nursing. She worked in a doctor's office and then left to teach certified medical assistants. She taught nursing skills, lab work and completing insurance forms. When her youngest child was born, Paulette left teaching and began her insurance career. She started in life and health and then went on to commercial insurance. Her first love has always been life and health and she is finally back doing what she likes best.
Paulette enjoys the people contact and working with the brokers. She has continued her education in insurance over the years, having taken and received her designation for CISR, and is now taking classes for the designation of CLU.
Arron grew up in Bloomington Minnesota where his mother Shelly Kramer (Direct Benefits’ Shaman) still lives. Arron played baseball at Jefferson High School eventually being the team captain as a starting pitcher and short-stop. Arron became a student athlete at Southwest Minnesota State University where he majored in History and Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy. Arron was the closer for SMSU baseball for three years and ranks second in career all-time saves at the university.
While at SMSU, Arron was active on campus as Resident Assistant and a Student Senator and was personally responsible for registering over 500 students to vote in 2008. Arron ‘s started his work career at age 15 working for Cub Foods grocery store doing just about every job they needed done including gathering carts, stocking the shelves, cutting and selling the meat! Outside of work Arron enjoys spending time with his beautiful bride Vanessa and their new puppy Westen in their new home in Hopkins Minnesota