Name: Craig Carrel
Position: President and Owner
Date of Hire: 1/1/1988
Favorite Story / Memory during Time Working at Team 1: Craig said that his favorite story was when Team 1 Plastics was running its very first job in May 1988. It was late Friday afternoon, and they (Craig and Jim Capo) were shutting down the plant for the long Memorial Day Weekend.
“We were all going to be taking the Memorial Day weekend off, and we were shutting the plant down on Friday afternoon. We thought we had completed all the orders. We got a call from our only customer, Regal Plastics. They were frantic because GM had dropped a big order on them that had to be done by Tuesday. They were going to work on the weekend, and they needed us to get them some parts. And so, we were scrambling around.”
Gary Grigowski had already left for the weekend because he had learned that the renters in his home in the Detroit area had started a fire in his house. He was in Detroit trying to figure out what happened and what he needed to do. That left just Jim and Craig to solve this problem – and they both had plans to go away for the weekend. “We met back at the plant late Friday evening and set everything up. I think we figured that it was going to be a 12-hour run, and we started running. It was an operator job — very labor intensive. We set up a cot and a sleeping bag in the Quality Lab. One guy was at the press, running it, while the other guy would take a nap for a couple of hours. The alarm would go off, and we’d switch. We did that all through the night and into the morning. We got done Saturday late morning or early afternoon.”
The parts got done, and Jim loaded them up in his vehicle and headed for Regal Plastics in the Detroit area – where he was living – and Craig went on to his weekend. In retrospect, Craig said, “That was one of those things that we just had to figure out. It just goes to show you that we had to do whatever to meet the customer orders and keep the company running. Our only customer said, ‘Jump,’ and we said, ‘How High?’”
Craig added, laughing, “We were running 24/7 before we even knew it! It was quite an adventure. I remember working through that night, rotating through the shifts, getting the product done, and getting the parts to them. It was a nice feeling of accomplishment.”
How has Team 1 helped your Personal and/or Professional Development? “I look back, and it amazes me to see how much Team 1 has helped me in terms of becoming a better person and a better leader. I’ve learned a lot of stuff about people and teams and how to put them together to be most successful. I had never been a supervisor before we started the company. None of us had ever managed – we were all in sales and self-managed, but none of us had been a supervisor or manager. That’s really been a learning experience – and, I’m still learning things. Sometimes, I think, why’d it take me 29 years to learn that? It’s seems obvious and when I start doing it, it is really helpful. Continuously learning — we just have to be open to that and to be receptive to change. It starts with ourselves and translates to the teams and to the company.”
Favorite Aspect of Working at Team 1: “First off, I feel blessed that I’ve always enjoyed coming into work. Even though there’s been rough periods, and it’s hasn’t always been a walk in the park, even on the bad days, I’ve always looked forward to it. I know so many people who are in a job and are making good money, but they are just counting down the days until retirement. I’ve never felt that way – I still don’t feel that way. One of the things I strongly believe in is to do something that you love.
“The part I like most about my job is the interactions with people. I really enjoy the customers we work with and the people here at Team 1 and that daily interaction. Even in today’s internet age, it’s the relationships you develop with the customers, helping them out and allowing them to be successful. And then seeing all the different Team Members and helping them have an opportunity to be successful at Team 1. We have a ton of examples of people who started as Production Assistants, have grown, and are now are leading teams and are as knowledgeable as anybody in the industry. That’s the part of my job that I love – the interaction with customers, Team Members, and in my role as President, being out in the community.”
What do you want to share about your life outside of Team 1? “What I’ve always tried to do – even in the early years – is to create a balance between work and life. Unfortunately, being an owner, we sometimes get that call and have to make changes to our plans – especially in the early days, but even still today. I’ve really tried to value a work / life balance.
“The most important part of my life is my family – my wife, Debbie, and our three kids, Meredith, Patrick and Ryan. They are three fabulous young adults, and I’ve been a big part of their lives. I’ve tried to be involved in their lives, as much as I can. Next is other family members, and I’m very close with friends, too. It’s all those personal relationships outside of work that I truly value. It’s a matter of putting in the time in those relationships to make them as successful and as meaningful as they can be. I truly believe at the end of the day that it will be those relationships that I will most value – owning Team 1 will be nice, but I want to make sure I’ve not neglected the most important part of life.”
In the community, Craig serves with Starr Commonwealth. “I’ve been pretty involved with Starr Commonwealth in Albion and have been on their board for the last six years. I’m actually going to be the Board Chair next year. It is a great organization, and I’ve been pleased to be part of it. It has a great mission. It has served children and families in need for over 100 years. Their whole industry is changing, and Starr Commonwealth is really trying to change to survive. I feel like I’ve played a small role in helping it move forward and, hopefully, make it last another 100 years.”
Piece of Advice and/or Encouragement for Future Team 1 Team Members: Laughing, Craig said, “I’m bias, but I think we have a great company!” He then added, “It’s not right for everybody; but if it fits, I think that there’s a place for you here. I think we value every Team Member and their contributions. We really try to create an environment for people to succeed. We want to promote from within, and we would much rather give our current team members the opportunities for advancement and better pay. We have lots of examples of people starting at an entry level position and moving up in the company. Also there are other people doing an exceptional job and adding value to the company from the same position in which they joined Team 1. We truly believe that everyone plays a critical role in our success, and we need to value everyone’s contributions. I encourage you to become a Team Member if we are a good fit and you enjoy our culture. We want to work together to make individuals successful in a team environment – and that will lead to making the company successful.
Random Question: What’s your preferred playing piece in Monopoly? “I had to look it up! I haven’t played Monopoly in a long time! If I remember right, and it’s weird and this intertwined thing, but there was a race car – an automobile. I remember liking that.”