Dale Larson's Success May Turn Off Ge

Dale Larson is a dangerous man - at least to his former partners at General Electric Capital Assurance (GECA).

Long Term Care, the company founded by Larson and Cameron Truesdell in Kirkland in 1985, was the primary marketing arm for GECA's long-term nursing-care insurance policies. And it was phenomenally successful.

By the time the founders sold the company to GECA in November 1997, Larson had become president and built it into a network of 1,000 agents who were writing $120 million worth of coverage annually.

You might have thought GECA would have stipulated that Larson couldn't compete against it in the race to sell insurance to the 5,300 Americans who reach retirement age each year. You would have thought wrong.

The deal put restrictions on Larson's hiring of Long Term Care employees, but didn't forbid him from competing in the same market. He couldn't actively recruit some former employees for one year, others for two. He couldn't hire former employees for 90 days.

"Literally on the 91st day, there was a line outside my door," he says.

Since founding Bothell-based Larson Long Term Care Group in February 1998, Larson has hired 50 employees and has begun assembling teams of agents in several key markets. By early May he expects to launch Peoples Choice, a product he jointly developed with the Aegon Group's Peoples Benefit Life Insurance.

Although Larson doesn't plan to assemble a sales force as large as Long Term Care's, he's thinking big. GE Capital Assurance may rue the day it paid him millions and put him out of work.

Keep them peaches rollin': HomeGrocer.com has been courting publicity this week for its Tupperware-like "peach parties" where customers invite their friends and neighbors over to sample the Bellevue company's food and try out online grocery shopping.

The real story, though, is HomeGrocer's aggressive plan to become the dominant home-delivery grocery on the West Coast by year's end. Service will be launched in a second Northwest city a month from now. The city hasn't been identified, but why would an ambitious retailer start with any market smaller than Portland?

City No. 3, somewhere between San Francisco and San Diego, will start seeing the peach-paneled trucks in July, followed by four more California cities in the fall. Another round of private investment will fund the expansion.

The Bellevue part of the operation, now with 160 employees and 25 delivery trucks, is expected to be profitable by year's end. Don't look for the company to go public before next year, says President and CEO Terry Drayton.

Briefly: Not all roads lead to the Eastside. Emerald Solutions, a technology consulting company founded in Bellevue two years ago, has moved its headquarters to Portland. . . .

Macrosearch/Macrostaff, a Bellevue recruiting and staffing firm, celebrates its 10th birthday today with an online party (and real cake delivered to work sites) for its 600 employees.

Coming up: William Ruckelshaus, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will discuss the significance of the endangered-species listing of Puget Sound salmon at the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce luncheon April 12. 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel Bellevue. $18 for members, $25 for nonmembers. Call 425-454-2464.

Inside Eastside Business appears Wednesdays in the Business section of The Seattle Times. You can contact Keith Ervin by phone, 206-515-5632; fax, 425-453-0449; or e-mail, kervin@seattletimes.com