President, Quality Assured Plastics Inc.
Annette Crandall, 56, is president of Quality Assured Plastics Inc., an injection molder in Lawrence, Mich. She earned an associate's degree in accounting in 1979 and a bachelor's degree in business management in 2002, both from Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich. She is a member of the Michigan Manufacturers Association in Lansing and two Michigan-based economic development agencies: Southwest Michigan First in Kalamazoo and Cornerstone Alliance in Benton Harbor.
She was one of 130 women in the nation to be recognized with the Washington-based Manufacturing Institute's 2015 STEP Ahead Award. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Production award honors and promotes women in manufacturing who have “demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers.”
Crandall enjoys horseback riding and regularly uses social media including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Q: What was your first plastics job and why were you interested in the industry?
Crandall: My first job in the plastics industry was the one person in a one-person office, working for two partners in a small injection molding company. As the “one person” I got to experience all aspects of the business and learned a lot more than if I had been one of many doing a specific segment of the work.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
Crandall: Successfully surviving and growing a family-owned business. While that may sound smug, it is truly not. Only those who have been there, or worked in that environment, can fully understand the dynamics and challenges that exist in a family business. I consider it a great achievement that Quality Assured Plastics has provided stable jobs for a lot of people in a rural community with a high poverty population.
Q: What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Crandall: Not being able to create and/or maintain an environment that would keep all of the founding family members in the company. I wonder what I could have done better whenever a person leaves QAP, but family businesses are an especially difficult environment. While I was proud of those who said they had to seek employment elsewhere, it is the thing I most wish I could have changed.
Q: What is your current challenge at work?
Crandall: Changes in how we work, how we relate, technology, regulations and those changes I don't even see on the horizon yet. As a leader, it can be difficult to change how I work, but changing how I lead and relate are my biggest challenges.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Crandall: Information technology fascinates me. We have come a long way from my Commodore 64: 64 KB, not MB or GB. There are so many options to learn to do things more efficiently, keep up and maintain balance.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Crandall: That it hasn't had any major changes. There are new materials, modifications to the technology and improvements in controls, but the basic process is still the same.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Crandall: Life is a series of choices. Sometimes your choices earn you the opportunity to make new choices, but everything is a choice. The other thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it is easier, and more productive, to build on someone's strengths than it is to fix their weaknesses.
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Crandall: Go! There are so many opportunities in so many different areas. No matter what your interest, there is very likely a place in the plastics industry that you will succeed [in] and love.
Q: If you were CEO of a company what would you do first?
Crandall: My “first” starts every morning and I look for ways to improve. Improve our work environment, processes, emerging leaders, compensation plan, financial position, facility, community — there are always places that need to improve.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Crandall: My dad has always been my inspiration. He has advised, supported, challenged, and loved me at my best and at my less-than-best.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Crandall: Ride horses, play golf and sing. I show an amazing quarter-horse mare in the American Ranch Horse Association-sanctioned shows. In the past year and a half she has carried me beyond my wildest dreams, doing things I love and things I never thought I could do, all while making sure I feel safe. Placing third in 2014 ARHA Novice Amateur High Point, earning Ranch Horse of the Year in several classes and Reserve Champion Select Versatility, Peps Dandy Doll met every goal I set for us in 2014. While this does not sound relaxing, to those for whom horses are their therapy, it is life itself.