“Nothing ever happens in business unless you market your brand, get in front of customers and are a knowledge leader in your field,” insists Isenberg marketing graduate Phil LeBlanc ’83. Phil is one of three founding Principals at Longfellow Benefits, a Boston-based employee benefits insurance broker. Founded in 1998, the firm focuses on business clients, serving them in three primary domains: Executive Benefits, Retirement Plans and Products, and Group Health and Welfare Benefits.
“When I was growing up, my father advised me to work on my strengths rather than on my weaknesses,” Phil recalls. “From the start, my business partners and I brought in nationally prominent experts to complement us in our own specialties. As entrepreneurs, one of our most important goals was to avoid the trap of overextending ourselves.” Those specialists, or “thought leaders,” he says, have energized Longfellow and helped it to build trust and credibility with its primary client contacts: CEOs, CFOs and human resource directors.
In December of 2013, Longfellow was acquired by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., an Illinois-based international insurance brokerage and risk management services firm with operations in 24 countries. “We realized that we had brought our company to early adulthood, and that we could gain leverage through Gallagher, whose values and businesses complement our own,” notes Phil, who continues there in his role as Senior Vice President.
At Isenberg, Phil embraced marketing and sales and the school’s strong work ethic. He was also starting catcher on the UMass varsity baseball team. After graduation, Phil joined Northwestern Mutual Life, where he built a thriving insurance practice based on helping individuals with their personal goals. In 1991 he became a partner with the Atlantic Benefit Group, which transitioned him into employee benefits. At ABG, Phil expanded his knowledge of the insurance industry and began designing, implementing and servicing group health and welfare programs in the corporate marketplace.
Phil’s academic, athletic, and career choices, especially his successful venture with Longfellow, have all leveraged his entrepreneurial instincts and his passion for marketing and sales. Above all, “I learned early on that I could sustain a rewarding career helping clients achieve their personal and business goals. Those relationships have always been what has driven me – professionally and personally.”
“At Isenberg, one of my most important courses–and my least favorite—was Marketing Statistics, taught by Professor Tom Madden,” recalls Phil. “At the end of the semester, I felt that I had learned a lot, but my grade didn’t reflect that. I told the professor that I thought I was entitled to a better grade and I will never forget what he told me: ‘You get what you deserve; there are no gifts; you earn rewards based on the effort you give.’ As a young man trying to find my way, Professor Madden, the other professors, and my coaches had a tremendous, lasting impact on my life and my career.”