Name: Ben Long
Title: Executive Director
VPA Office: Indiana
I am a graduate of Wabash College with a major in English and a minor in both French and Business. After college, I got into banking and spent 14 years with BMO Harris Bank and its affiliates, the last five of which were as a Retail Market President for Indianapolis North. After surviving several mergers and restructures, I got out of banking and joined Valbridge in December 2017. I am married (wife Lauren who is a NICU Nurse Practitioner), have three daughters- Eliza (9), Daphne (7), and Camille (4), and three dogs- Gryffin, Claire, and Winter. In my free time, I read a lot of fiction, watch a lot of movies, and enjoy exercise and the outdoors. I am currently training for my first three sprint triathlons coming up this summer season.
What is your title and what do you do at Valbridge?
I am the Executive Director of our Indiana office and in charge of overseeing growth and operations for the firm. On a daily basis, that can range from anything from client relationship management and development / prospecting, customer service, the quoting / assignment / management of projects, managing our P&L, contracts, negotiation, data and analytics. In all, I and the other support staff, oversee all other aspects of the business, so that the appraisal team can solely focus on appraising.
How did you become a part of Valbridge?
When I started out in banking, it was from the ground up. I had big dreams, worked hard to create meaningful impact with clients, build a name, climb the ladder, and start a family. Eventually, at the age of 33, I became a market president at the 7th largest bank in North America. For the next five years, I got a taste of what was behind the scenes of the big banks in corporate America and felt a disconnect of values and vision. I wanted to work with a company that valued the work-life balance and understood the growth that occurs when you put your people first. I did some research and learned about Valbridge, and was able to get an interview with Larry Mitchell and Joe Alerding. After meeting them, I was sold on the people and the culture here.
What are your specialty areas?
Coming from a banking background, I have extensive experience behind the scenes of the commercial loan departments, from working with the back-office administration to the loan officers and everyone in between. Understanding how they work with their clients, I can help anticipate their needs and customize not only our offering, but how it is offered, and clearly communicate throughout the process. Knowing what things are like on the other side of the fence, I use that to help think of what little things we can do to stand out.
What are some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on at Valbridge?
I’ve really enjoyed the logistics and complexity of some of the large portfolio projects we’ve done. Two of our MAIs, Larry Mitchell and Julie Ahern, worked on some bank mergers totaling around 54 branches in the last 18 months. Our other MAI, Joe Alerding, worked on two high-profile mixed-use commercial campuses in both Indianapolis and in Fort Wayne in which we collaborated with other Valbridge offices.
The Indianapolis project was a 12-acre mixed-use redevelopment featuring a 136-room hotel, eight screen cinema, office and retail space, and apartments and condominiums. The Fort Wayne redevelopment project included 18 historic buildings and more than 1.2 million square foot of space for office, retail, residential, hotel, and entertainment use on 39 acres. Not only did they have some interesting history behind them, but I took a great deal of pride in that few competitors would be able to handle them. The proposal and vetting process for both was lengthy, and we beat out other national firms because of our experience, flexibility, quality, efficiency, and communication.
What do you like most about working at Valbridge?
I take pride in that we are a boutique appraisal firm with a national network of support. We have industry experts who collaborate and bring all of their resources to bear in customizing solutions for our clients and give a best-in-class experience. In any industry, you have firms that state the same; but at Valbridge, I see the collaboration every day- whether it is sharing best practices, Affinity Groups, referrals, multiple offices working on portfolios, etc. I have not seen that level of teamwork in any other franchising system, and it says a lot about our leadership and the quality of people throughout Valbridge. Of any organization I’ve been a part of, it is the most selfless.
Additional information you want to include in your spotlight:
I came to Valbridge with little knowledge of the appraisal industry. I just wanted to take a moment to recognize any of the successes that I’ve had in the last 18 months have been the result of the privilege of working with a great team of experts who have helped get me going, and continue to support me each day.
Without the leadership and experience of Larry, Joe, Beth, Brian, Julie, Liza, Kenzie, and Michelle, along with all of the support of the surrounding offices who aid me with advice and encouragement, this would have been a much more difficult road to travel. I am very grateful.