December is the perfect month to celebrate Wills Long, founder of LONG Building Technologies. It seems fitting that he was born during a month that celebrates generosity and family.
While Wills is truly an entrepreneur, he is more than that to the LONG family. Although Wills probably didn’t realize it at the time, his courageous step forward in 1965 to become a business owner would have such a lasting impact on so many people’s lives.
A little background…Wills was born in Springfield, Missouri. He later moved New York where he lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the railroad tracks with his family. Wills was a bright young man full of potential and thus received a scholarship to attend a private high school (a scholarship was the only way he could afford to attend).
Upon graduating high school, Wills weighed his options and was taken by the beauty of Colorado. He decided he was ready for a change of scenery and applied to Colorado University. Who knew this decision would eventually result in a family of his own that would include a wife, a son and two daughters. Wills would later remarry and be blessed with a step-daughter as well. He is now the proud grandpa of 12 wonderful grandkids and 2 beautiful great-granddaughters.
Wills graduated from Colorado University double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Business. After graduation, Wills accepted a position with General Mills as a chemist, and interestingly, he was on the team that invented the ever so popular snack, Bugles!
Wills left General Mills to begin his career in the HVAC industry with Trane. He worked at Trane for 5 years but longed to be a business owner. The quote...
“In the fall of 1965, I decided to strike out on my own. I had zero money…I had no assets, only an idea and courage.”
...demonstrates Wills’ perseverance to make his dream a reality and so Long and Company was born.
Long and Company (Wills and his wife) began in the basement of his house as a small manufacturer representative that would be named the local rep for McQuay. LONG would later go onto represent many quality manufacturers some of which have continued a relationship with LONG for most of the company’s existence…a true testament to Wills’ understanding of the importance of relationships.
Fast forward over 50 years and Wills’ dream has expanded greatly from his Colorado basement into Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. LONG continues to be a successful and trusted manufacturer representative. LONG is also an expert in all major building systems technologies, serving commercial, institutional and industrial facilities of all types and sizes. It is amazing to consider that Long and Company began with 2 employees, and now almost 400 employees call it home.
Wills’ son began working for LONG 27 years ago. His motivation was not to just join the family business. It was the opportunity to learn from and work alongside his dad as well as be part of something bigger. Wills’ grandson recently also became part of the LONG family. His desire was the same…work beside HIS dad and be part of an extended family that all works together as a team to ensure LONG remains a truly remarkable place to call home. This nurturing culture encourages employees’ families to consider LONG as a career path as well as join for the summer to learn real life skills that can be applied later in life.
When Wills made the decision to take such a big risk, he did so without the intentional thought to create an environment that fosters teaching and caring about people. It is just naturally who Wills is at the core. His core values were imbedded in LONG’s infrastructure from day one and have remained for over 50 years. This caring belief system has been passed down from employee to employee and to our customers.
Wills created a family legacy not just for his Long family but an entire new LONG extended family. Thank you, Wills, for having the tenacity to realize your dream. The heart you started Long and Company with remains very much a part of LONG Building Technologies today. Happy Birthday!
Joslyn is the digital marketing coordinator for LONG. She loves to hike and play volleyball when the weather is warm and spends her free time reading, watching movies, and playing video and board games.