One thing few people know about Turner Industries’ Tobie Craig is when she’s not connecting people in the heavy manufacturing sector, she takes to the open road. Recently she rode 500 miles through the hill country of West Texas on her friend’s Gold Wing Motorcycle. Last year, she traveled to Grand Canyon to traverse 187 miles on a rafting trip and slept beneath the stars.
Whether she’s out on the road or visiting a client’s worksite, Craig enjoys building connections, which has been essential to her career success.
Currently Turner Industries Group’s vice president of marketing and workforce development strategies, Craig developed this skill in the late 1980s while working for an independent industrial staffing company in Gonzales, home to about 39 petrochemical plants at the time.
“It was a hotbed of the industry,” Craig says.
Whenever a plant needed an engineer, draftsman, administrative assistant or janitor, it would come to her employer. “We were the only game in town,” she notes.
Craig got to know nearly everyone, which served her well in 1997, when heavy industrial maintenance and construction company Turner Industries bought the staffing company.
“I had operated across all of their platforms. I knew all of their clients. That was key to my success. I was on a first-name basis with their clients and had gotten them their jobs,” she says. “The key was knowing the customer, knowing what we provided and how we wanted to communicate it.”
In 2005 she became Turner’s first corporate marketing manager, charged with helping rebrand the company. Her team—Turner’s first internal marketing division—has embraced creativity.
For example, her team members joined Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., in April to raise awareness for the skilled crafts. They hosted a booth where visitors could sign their name on a brick Lego that became part of a structure signed by Rowe, which will be auctioned off to raise funds for scholarships. They also launched a website, followmybrick.com, where young people can track their Lego and the structure as it travels around the country.
“I approach marketing as business development,” she says. “We’re not selling a product. We’re selling a service.”
Since 2005, Turner Industries has increased its revenues to $2.2 billion and doubled the number of employees to 16,000.
Craig sees many opportunities for women in the industry. But she also recognizes the lack of child care options as a major challenge.
“This makes me angry. If you look at what goes on with child care today, nothing has changed in the last 30 years. There’s no place to take a sick child. There’s no place that takes children evenings or weekends,” she says. “Why is there not a child care facility in every major office complex?”
Craig remembers having to bring her son into work when she had to work off hours, something with which she sees working moms continuing to struggle today. “Child care and transportation are key to workforce development,” she says.
In addition to her work at Turner Industries, Craig has served on the board of the Louisiana Chemical Industrial Alliance since 1990 and the Alliance Safety Council Board since 2007. She previously served as chairwoman of the board for Capital Area United Way.
Through employee pledges and corporate contributions, Turner Industries has a $1.7 million company campaign for the nonprofit.
“I’ve learned a lot from all of my roles—professional and charity,” Craig says. “There’s so much you learn about how people work together. You can’t accomplish anything good if you don’t have a lot of people working in concert.”