Custer Crawford is the President and CEO of Crawford Industrial Services. LLC. His company provides services used by refinery’s and chemical plants in the gulf coast region of the United States. Mr. Crawford and his team have had great success in doing turnarounds without serious injury to employee’s. World class turnaround strategist, and consultants.
Crawford Industrial Services, LLC is focused on highly specialized turnarounds, revamps, scheduled repairs, and emergency repairs for Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCUs), Delayed Coker Units (DCUs), Specialty Welding Services & ASME Code Welding. And continued maintenance.
Tracy: Custer, what was your entry point into entrepreneurship? When was it that you started? I want you to go way back. It could go back to childhood, it could go back to as far back as you can remember. When did you get the bug to be an entrepreneur?
Custer: I think it would go back to my early teenage years. I always worked all through the summers and weekends in things like, hauling hay, cutting firewood, whatever I could do to make a few dollars, so I think that process had made me realize, if you are going to have anything in life, you going to have to work for it.
Tracy: And you realized that working for somebody else wasn’t probably the best formula for that.
Custer: Yes, I’ve tried that for a few years after I got out of high school and winded up going into business for myself. So I made a large commitment and I’ve done that for a number of years, about 10 years, that was one of the things that I think, when you have your own time and money invested in a business and it does well, everything is good. But then if it doesn’t do so well, then you have to rethink what you do and then how you are doing it. So that process I think got me a little further down the road in realizing and understanding business.
Tracy: Can you remember any significant point in your life that you caught the entrepreneur bug. Can you tell us a short story that really kind of put you over the top as far as being an entrepreneur, maybe your family situation or maybe something significant like that?
Custer: There’s probably a number of things I could say. After I got into the turnaround business in 1989, a few short years later, in 1994, I’d done a job for that company, a lump sum job, and best I remember the bid was like $850,000. We’d done the job for about half that, and you really don’t realize until it’s all said and done and you learn the effects of what that had done for a company, have that kind of profit on the job and I think that helped set in motion in this business for understanding that, there’re great opportunities out there if you just take care of your business and do things right.
Tracy: So 1994, that’s over 20 years ago…
Tracy: You got the bug. And so obviously, when entrepreneurs start out, there is fear involved, uncertainty. When did you emerge from a green entrepreneur to where you’re at today as a corporation owner, where you’re at now?
Custer: From that point, you continue and you grow and we had some years of major milestones, I guess you would say, from like 2006 through 2009 and we set some records for the company in work hours and also in safety and that was something that helped transition me from the green entrepreneur, to realize, it’s out there if you want to go get it.
Tracy: When did you realize and you said that, I’m going to be an entrepreneur. There was a switch, that flipped that says, you know what, I need to go in this direction. Was there a significant point where that happened?
Custer: It was several years ago. We again maintained the group, we had a major milestone in 2011. My team and I did turnarounds there at one location for about 1.3 million work hours with no recordables. Coming from that particular job I think that the issues that I encountered from my peers at that time and in doing that, and accomplishing that, made me realize, if you know how to do this, you know what needs to be done, if you’re your own boss, you can make it that way.
Tracy: What is it that your company does now for the gas and oil industry, what is it that you do for your customers?
Custer: Our services, we’re primarily a turnaround company. We do turnarounds in the refining petrochemical industry. Associated with that, there are usually some capital projects. We also do revamps, which can be part of turnarounds most of the time. Sometimes it’s revamp of a complete unit, but those are the things that our group has the most experience in and the know-how to do those things.
Tracy: If I were a customer and needed your services, what is it that you can look into the eye of a business owner or client and tell them that you can help them with? What is it that you can say?
Custer: I would say that if they have a good work scope. We can execute it safely on budget and on schedule and meet their expectations.
Tracy: Is there anything else that you’d like to add as far as your family, hobbies, or anything else?
Custer: Yes. My wife and I, we enjoy spending time with our children and grandchildren and we love taking our grandchildren up to the country to our farm to fish. We are very active in our church where I serve as a board member and we enjoy travelling, and seeing sites with our family.
Tracy: I understand you just took up the game of golf.
Custer: Yes, That was after about a 20-year gap, yeah, that’s something I can conquer with time and practice.