Tim Long has been a State Farm Insurance Agent for 31 years. Along the way he’s built a strong agency, providing personalized service to 1,400 households in Marin, Sonoma and across the Bay Area. “A lot has changed in that time,” he says, “except our personal connection to our clients.”
Are you on a Chamber committee?
The Government Affairs Committee. It’s a natural place for me because I am also involved with the Personal Insurance Federation, a lobbying firm in Sacramento. I’m there fairly often and know the reps and their staffs. This year I went with the San Rafael and Santa Rosa chambers on a joint trip to the capital to talk with lawmakers about transportation issues.
How did you learn to play the guitar?
In high school I played around with my brother’s guitar and in college I played because girls liked it. I put it down to build my insurance business. In 2002 my wife got me a guitar for Christmas and I went out and formed a couple of really awful bands. Now I’m playing with the Novato Role Models, a classic rock band with a surgeon, an Episcopal priest and a high school teacher.
What’s your favorite band?
It was the Beatles in the beginning. This week it’s Poco. I’m a big jazz nut too. I also like opera, which my daughter used to sing. She’s a super good singer but she didn’t want to live that life. Now she’s editor of Strings, a magazine about classical music instruments.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
I’m very lucky. I’ve been happily married for 39 years as of January. I have two children and a couple of grandkids. And I’m in fabulous health.
How do you give back?
I’ve been very involved in Rotary, and while I’ve had to step back I still do my Rotary project, through Project Amigo. We help about 300 kids a year in a poor rural village in Mexico overcome the barriers to going to school. I took a Spanish immersion class to go on the trips, and now I speak Spanish a couple of times a week at work. I have a lot of Guatemalan clients and they really love that.
What’s the most fun you’ve had recently?
I’m doing insurance reviews for clients now and it’s really, really fun. I review their insurance personally and it’s totally uplifting to be able to do it. When you think about it, how many places in your life do you have an interpreter whose job is to help you? I’m the last guy standing, a sole proprietor with a staff. I pay taxes and live in the community. I feel like we perform a service that is leaving us because we deal directly with the corporations, like Amazon and Apple.
What is your earliest memory?
Snow in Ohio. I was jumping off a 10-foot porch into snow that was only a foot or so below me. I was about 4. And, I remember my mother walking me to kindergarten when it was hot. She was wearing a hat and gloves because it was 1959, and she was sweaty.
Are you an optimist, pessimist or realist?
I’m a realist. At this age and point in my life, I’m probably calmer and accept what is, better than when I was younger.
Is there something you've dreamt of doing that you haven’t done yet?
I would really like to go to Israel. And Ireland is on my list, but that is going to happen soon. My family came to this country from Dingle, on the southwestern coast of Ireland in 1850.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I was an illegal alien, an undocumented worker in Sweden in 1975. My friend was traveling to the US for the summer, so I took his job and apartment while he was gone. I worked for a gardener, earning Swedish krona, and had a huge apartment overlooking the harbor and the old town of Gothenburg. Everybody wanted to visit me. Thirty-five years later I went back with my wife.
If you could have lunch with anyone from history who would it be?
Shakespeare, that’s my first thought. I’d ask him how his business is running. The second one would be Julius Caesar so I could find out about maintaining the empire after the civil war. I’d probably also ask about Cleopatra.