JEVS may be celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, but one of our community partners is coming up on an even bigger milestone – its 88th year in business. Odell Studner, a team of highly-trained insurance brokers and consultants, is now entering its fourth generation of assessing risk and providing solutions for the greater Delaware Valley for profit and nonprofit business communities. They’ve repeatedly been named a “Best Place to Work” and have a corporate charitable foundation, but what you may not know about is their fierce passion for helping others.
We sat down with J. Brett Studner (far right, in photo), vice chairman at Odell Studner and a member of JEVS Human Services’ Community Partners, to discuss risk and uncertainty in the present day, as well as how businesses can have an impact beyond their bottom line.
Q. Let’s start at the beginning. Who is Odell Studner?
A. Odell Studner is a third-generation company…well, now a fourth-generation company as my son just entered the business…designed to handle the insurance needs of medium to large-size organizations. We handle all of the insurance needs of our clients including the negotiations of contracts, transfers of risk, claims handling and personal lines, inclusive of homeowners and auto insurance. My grandfather started in the business in 1929, selling disability policies door-to-door during the Great Depression; we’re now located in King of Prussia, and while we have a national scope, 65% of our business is locally-based.
Q. How, personally, did you become involved with JEVS?
A. Back in 1982, I became aware of JEVS through a Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia Young Leadership Council program; young leaders were assigned to different affiliated organizations, and we would sit as observers. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t just observe!
Q. What are your areas of interest, and what are the critical needs you see in the region?
A. I’ve served as a past board member, and have helped lead the Corporate Council [today’s Community Partners], along with Bob Cohen, a JEVS’ Board member, and some senior staff. One of the things I love about JEVS is that they hit so many of the broad services the community needs – especially when it comes to 1) jobs, including both job placement and job training and 2) caring for those who may not be able to care for themselves.
At different points in our lives, people find themselves in need of employment, or economic circumstances or life circumstances have dictated that they can no longer make “ends meet” and it can be difficult. I know it’s tough – maybe someone isn’t sure how to approach a company, or how to polish their resume, or maybe it’s larger needs, like drug addiction or health care needs that are preventing them from feeling confident and succeeding. JEVS gives them confidence, support and that stepping stone they need to move forward.
As far as the caring goes, you see that in programs like Supports Coordination or Nursing Home Transition, or affiliate program JEVS Care at Home. Think about it: if someone in your family is trying to transition back into the community after recovering from serious injury or illness, most of us wouldn’t know how to handle the situation! These folks do it with grace and dignity.
Q. What’s your personal philosophy?
A. For business, it’s integrity. You need to do the right thing for people, because in the end I truly believe that it all comes back around. That’s how you build a reputation within your community. Listening. Showing respect. Being strategic partners and helping clients to find helpful resources within the community.
Sounds much like JEVS!
I’m happy that you say that, because I’ve had the privilege of presenting an Inspiration Award at Strictly Business the past few years. Every year, I’m blown away by the achievements of the individuals that are honored, and it absolutely puts everything in perspective.