Lawrence is a beautiful rural village in southwest Michigan. It’s home to the Van Buren County Road Commission, the Van Buren Intermediate School District’s Technology Center and about 1,000 residents who have a lot of community pride and loyalty.
That’s why, in 1986, nine members of a local family came together and decided to build a business. The idea was Jim Crandall’s, who had made his living by doing just that — building businesses. The goal was to create quality employment opportunities within the community while also providing much-needed local tax revenue. Because, while the Intermediate School District, and the road commission provided jobs, they generated no tax base for Lawrence.
Having recently earned a degree in accounting, Crandall’s daughter Annette Crandall began work at a small, local plastics company as the “office person.” That quickly morphed into a multi-tasking management role for nearly every aspect of the business — purchasing, HR, production scheduling and more.
“It became a well-rounded education in how to run a small plastics company,” Annette says.
What is the best part about your job?
“That’s easy. The people: QAP’s team members, customers, suppliers and community.”
What is one skill everyone should have?
“Problem solving with decision making.”
Annette’s formative experience at the local plastics company eventually became the catalyst for Quality Assured Plastics (QAP).
“When it came time to start our company, my degree and experience in the plastics business helped with writing the business plan. We started in 1986 in an old, repurposed building in town. Later, we purchased the company I previously worked for,” says Annette.
They built a new 29,000 square-foot facility in 1999 and merged both plants into one. As part of her father’s succession plan, Annette became president in 2009 and, since 2014, QAP has been recognized by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a certified women-owned business.
In the beginning, supporting the automotive industry was QAP’s primary revenue source. Annette says they learned early on that automotive work was too cyclical, so they diversified.
What is the best advice you ever received?
“Work like it all depends on you, pray like it all depends on God.
Life is a series of choices.
Hindsight is 20/20 only if you are paying attention.”
What superpower would you want and why?
“Photographic memory. I am at the age that remembering things is a definite super power.”
“Being diversified is good for everybody because it keeps us sharp,” she says. “We’re now a very diverse custom injection molder, and our top three markets are heavy transportation, agricultural and consumer products.”
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s mandatory shutdowns happened last year, QAP’s diversity turned out to be a blessing. They had customers considered essential, so they were able to remain open and operational during the shutdown.
But, Annette says, challenges due to the global pandemic continue to linger, especially when it comes to ongoing supply chain disruptions. She says her team spends an incredible amount of time each day just trying to get material in house.
“Some of the plastic resins don’t seem to exist,” she says.
What is one thing you can’t live without?
“Family. Both my immediate and extended family are very close and I treasure that.”
How Are You Innovating?
“Our team is really good at looking at a situation, mulling it over, and finding a new solution, or sometimes resurrecting an old one.”
Having been there from the very beginning, there are many points of pride and accomplishment Annette can point to. But more than anything, she appreciates the people.
“I’m just one member of a 39-person team,” says Annette. “If it weren’t for the dedication and talent of everyone behind it, QAP wouldn’t be where it is today. They’re very good at meeting customer needs and problem solving, and they have been able to reduce costs tremendously for many projects over the years.”
Quality Assured Plastics has been an MMA member company since March 1989. Visit online: qapinc.com.