TIRELESS CEO AND PHILANTHROPIST

Wardrobe: Portia & Scarlett ostrich feather gown, her own, from Elite Pour La Vie.

STORY: Lisa R. Schoolcraft
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna

Su Longman may very well be one of the hardest-working women in Buckhead. The petite powerhouse is the co-founder, CEO and majority stockholder of Atlanta-based Pallet Central Enterprises (PCE), which has 20 regional offices throughout the U.S. and clients in South America, Canada and Asia.

It’s why she only sleeps about two hours a night. That’s right, two hours. “I get up at 2:30 a.m. every morning,” says Longman. “I have plants in China and different parts of the world, so I have to be up early to check on my plants and vendors. I work 80-plus hours per week.”

Her work ethic was learned as a child, says Longman. “When I was little, my dad used to tell me, ‘The world is what is happening when you are sleeping.’”

PCE is a pallet and waste stream management company she founded with her husband, Al, in 2005. “I met [my husband] in 2004,” says Longman. “When we met, he got fired from the pallet company he was working for.” So the pair founded their own company in the living room of their home, growing it to a business that now generates $50 to $70 million each year.

Her company has been named a top 500 women-owned business and a top 100 Asian-owned business in the U.S., both awarded by DiversityBusiness.com, now known as Omnikal. PCE’s clients include Georgia-Pacific, Anchor Glass, The Kraft Heinz Company, Coca- Cola and The Home Depot.

Longman and her husband, who serves as the company’s president, have been married for almost 15 years. “We work together and play together,” she says. “We became successful together. I never feel like I’m juggling anything with him.”

Longman isn’t all work, though. She’s active in several charitable organizations, including having served as chair of the A Meal to Remember gala for Meals on Wheels, the Atlanta Ballet Ball, the National Black Arts Festival’s Fine Art + Fashion event and the Starfish Ball for the Nsoro Foundation. Longman has also served on the board of Nsoro and has provided college scholarships and mentoring through Longman Scholarship funds for children who are forced out of the state’s foster care program when they “age out” at 18.

While she supports many organizations, Longman has been involved with Meals on Wheels for 10 years and says it’s one of her favorites. “I donate to just about every charity that asks me, but I may not always attend the galas,” she says. Longman also tries to help others behind the scenes. “On a daily basis, I try to do charitable giving and help people who are going through a hard time.”

With her work and charitable activities, Longman doesn’t have much time for play, but she and her husband love to dine at Bones and the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group eateries, especially Kyma. She’s also a fan of Justin Anthony’s Cape Dutch. “I love their elk chop,” she says.

As for what makes her a role model worthy of being featured, she says, “I think everyone has a different definition of a bold woman. To me, it is being fearless, strong-willed and making the world fit you and not you fitting into the world. Do not compromise on principles or ethics, but also know how to navigate the gray area of life.”