Terri Fasold was just 18 when she was hired at VIPCO, a siding division of Crane Group, in 1979.
Over the next 44 years, she has witnessed many changes—from the company’s decision to sell its legacy plastics business to its acquisition of numerous business units and its evolution into the Crane Group of today.
Now, as our Office Manager and Executive Assistant, she is the most tenured employee at Crane Group outside of the Crane family—and she even has a few of them beat.
Each day, she manages the busy calendars of our executive team and keeps every aspect of our office running smoothly. She’s also the first face you see when you walk into Crane, the “Director of First Impressions”—and the reason that by the time you leave, you’ll feel like family.
“Probably what I love most about Terri is her welcoming and inviting personality. In fact, often when I have a visitor, I end up walking out to Terri’s desk and having to tear them away from her,” says Tanny Crane President and CEO. “She is THE heart & soul of Crane—she is our culture keeper and an institution.”
Here, Fasold reflects on her journey at Crane Group, the lessons she’s learned, and a few of her favorite memories.
What was it like when you were first hired?
I took office education in high school, and I knew I wanted to work in an office. I interviewed for a job in payroll and accounts payable at VIPCO, what was then our siding division. The personnel manager thought I was too young. But the manager I’d be reporting to said, “Let’s give her a chance.” The personnel manager watched over my shoulder as I did a timed writing, and I had to take a math test. VIPCO was across the street from Crane Plastics on Fairwood Ave. I worked right off the loading dock in a cubicle with another girl. It wasn’t glamorous. The company was growing so fast. Eventually they built a new addition with a front office. There were four women, and we had our desks all pushed together. We listened to soap operas all day on the radio while we worked. I was still typing on a typewriter with onion skin and carbon paper. There wasn’t voicemail or email. We didn’t have PCs. Everything was manual. I think about what it was like when we got a word processer. It was so archaic! In the ‘80s when I was working in the IT department, they put the first Mac computer on my desk. It was a little square box. They told me to take classes to learn how to use it, so I did!
How has your role evolved?
I originally did payables and payroll, and we used to have to balance bank statements manually. The controller, Mike O’Connell, used to make me go back if it was two cents off. I’d tell him, “Don’t stop the parade to pick up a dime!” I learned a lot from Mike. He was my biggest mentor as far as my financial knowledge.
When they needed someone to fill in for the executive offices, no one else knew how to type. Typing was what got me my in. I’ll never forget when we got Microsoft Office. I had typed a letter. Jim and Bob Crane were standing over my shoulder. I was so excited about it. I said, “You have to see this! You can make changes as many times as you want!” Even those “While You Were Out” pink slips—I’d have to deliver those to people’s offices. I remember when we got voicemail. I still had to keep a manual calendar. When we got Outlook with email and calendars, it was amazing. Technology advanced a lot in a brief period of time. It definitely made my job so much easier.
What’s made you stay?
I’ve always loved the Crane family, the people, the culture. I still love the work. I’ll never forget the day Tanny called me and said, “Would you be interested in being my assistant?” I said, “When can I start?!” I knew that was the work I wanted to do. I knew I’d enjoy working with Tanny and Mike. I also got to work closely with Jim and Jay Crane. I love to schedule and keep people organized. It was a game-changer. I’m truly blessed. I take care of them, and they have taken care of me.
What do you love most about your job?
During COVID when we were working from home, I got used to it and liked it. But when we came back after COVID, I didn’t realize how much I missed the people. They’re like my family. We’re hiring so many new people. They’re all young and excited about the future. It’s exciting to watch my “work kids” thrive. I am driven to make sure the new employees know a little bit about our history and how far we have come. I have seen so much change in all my years at Crane, and I don’t want its roots to be forgotten.
Can you share a favorite memory of your experience at Crane Group?
Some of my favorite memories were times I got to spend with Jim Crane. We had a special bond. As he got older, his hearing declined, and he prided himself on remembering names. People would want him to come to an event or to a retiree group lunch, and so I’d go with him because I knew how much the people wanted to see him. I knew what it was like to be in his presence. I told him, “All they care about is seeing you and shaking your hand. Chances are I’ll forget their name too!” He would chuckle. After, he would say, “Thank you so much for encouraging me to go.” He loved the people, and they loved him.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned while working here?
If you can be anything in life, be kind. People ask me, “Do you have to talk to everyone?” Yes, I do! It doesn’t matter where you are in life, be kind and give back. Crane core values—that’s what I’ve lived by my entire adult life.
You’ve managed some busy calendars. What methods or tools do you use to stay organized?
The thing you’ll always notice is if someone is approaching my desk, I put a pencil in my hand and I have a spiral notepad ready. I used to have Post-Its everywhere. I write down everything. I manage a lot of calendars. I have a two-page Excel spreadsheet of all meetings I schedule. I use my calendar as a master. Every day, I look at Tanny’s week, and I confirm her meetings. Tanny is my boss, but when it comes to her calendar, for the most part, she lets me be the boss! I manage several calendars for other executives in the office, but I also schedule for a dozen other people. It’s a giant jigsaw puzzle and for some crazy reason, I like it.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I am definitely a caregiver. The thing I’ve loved most in life is being a mom and a grandma. My son is 31 and my granddaughter is three. Those 18 years when I was a hands-on mom, getting him to all his sports practices and volunteering for his basketball team, I loved that. The last 10 years I’ve devoted to taking care of my parents. I lost my dad in 2019, and now my mom has dementia. The is the difficult part of life. The highlight of my life these days is my 3-year-old granddaughter. So, I spend my spare time with family. I do watch silly TV shows, like “The Bachelor.” I don’t think I’ve missed a season in 20 years. I have also found time to read again. I haven’t done that in years.
What’s something surprising that others might not know about you?
Nothing! Everyone knows everything about me. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and my life is an open book. They’ve seen me get married, have a baby, get divorced, through the death of my father, my son having cancer, the birth of my granddaughter. All my major life events, they’ve been there.