How the Satell Institute Changed a Pittsburgh CEO’s Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility


What Seubert chairman Brian Long learned about focus and impact.

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When it comes to the industry in which he’s spent his career—insurance—Brian Long is practical. “Insurance isn’t sexy,” he says, “but I can tell you one thing, it’s always going to be here. People are going to need it.”

Such clarity helped Long turn Seubert & Associates into a highly successful, highly respected player in the world of risk management, with more than 100 employees and offices in Pittsburgh, Erie, Philadelphia and West Palm Beach.

When it came to Corporate Social Responsibility, Long admits his approach wasn’t always so clear-eyed—until he met Ed Satell and got involved in the Satell Institute. Today, Long brings strategic thinking, passion and deep engagement to the world of giving back.

In this Q&A, Long, who’s Seubert’s chairman, talks about the many benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility, the deep impact of the Satell Institute, and the amazing potential SI has with its fast-growing Pittsburgh chapter.

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Our business serves…
…the middle market—businesses that typically employ 50 to 5000 people. Construction, oil and gas, trucking, nonprofits and real estate development are our core industry groups. Insurance isn’t fun to buy. It isn’t fun to use. We try to make it as user-friendly as possible.

The key to our success has been…
…a lot of people say this, but it’s true for us: People are our only asset. With insurance brokerage, it’s not like we’re a contractor who’s building something or a car dealership that has an inventory of new cars. The only thing we’re selling is a piece of paper and a promise.

We bonus people stock for high-level performance, and we develop them. It takes a while to learn insurance, so we have mentoring programs and a very strong internship program. The president of our company now, and the fellow who runs our construction operation, and the woman who runs our commercial insurance operations—all three of them started as interns with us when they were 21 years old. It’s pretty satisfying the way our people grow.

We’re a pretty unique firm because…
…there are an awful lot of mergers and acquisitions in our industry. And we’re anti that. It’s our unique thing. Like breeds like: we have some really sharp, hardworking, caring people, and they attract other sharp, hardworking, caring people. And our customers seem to be the same way.

When it comes to CSR, our corporate strategy…
…I have to say, until I met Ed Satell, we had zero corporate strategy around CSR, and I was personally responsible for that. I was introduced to Ed via YPO. After five minutes of talking to him, I realized what a special human being he was. He told me his story, and what he did, and I was just in awe of this guy. Just the way Ed thought about Corporate Social Responsibility got me more active and directed in the nonprofits that we support.

We decided to join the Satell Institute when…
…we have an office in Philadelphia, and I asked the person who runs it about the Satell Institute. He knew some of the members, and everything about it just felt really right. I love what it’s all about. I love what Ed’s all about. To me, it’s true north. With Satell, one plus one doesn’t equal two. It equals about four. That’s Satell math.

We put our focus…
… on local nonprofits. There are problems all over the world, but I like to start in my own neighborhood. I was raised on Mister Rogers, and there’s literally a statue of him two blocks from our office in Pittsburgh. So I passionately believe that you start in your own neighborhood, and if you do your job well, your neighborhood becomes the world and good things happen. Back to Satell Math.

We support two nonprofits via Satell. One is Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. It touches a number of people in our office. My mom passed away from an intestinal disease. The second is Achieva, a Pittsburgh nonprofit that helps folks with disabilities. They do quite a bit of good, and it touches your heart.

CSR helps our team at Seubert because…
…we try and encourage involvement. In a post-pandemic world, we do anything we can to get folks together. So charity walks and runs and things like that are a nice way to get people together and do some good for the community.

We have a committee that we call Seubert Cares that gives some direction to our Corporate Social Responsibility. We try to let everybody have a voice. But charity starts at home, so we like to start with locals.

CSR has helped our company because…
…it has helped in our marketing, especially with nonprofits. Our visibility in the nonprofit sector has grown. Health insurance and major medical have typically been a challenge for nonprofits, and we have a pretty unique approach there that a lot of nonprofits find useful. It’s wonderful just sitting in a room talking about doing some good, and you do business by accident.

The Satell Institute’s chapter in Pittsburgh…
…is the coolest thing, and it’s cool that we get to be involved on the ground floor of it.

I’m a transplant, but Pittsburgh is such a great place. And it is very local. There’s a way companies and charitable organizations can work together on intelligence, fundraising and usage of those funds. It is really something that we haven’t done. Pittsburgh is a natural market for Satell, and it will explode.

SI’s Fall 2023 Private CEO Conference will be held on October 31st at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

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