This week I got the opportunity to sit down and talk with the guy who made High Point Supply Co. come to life, our CEO Chad Crain. We wanted to give everyone a little insight into who he is and how he decided to come up with the idea for this store. Most importantly, we'll find out why he is wanting to continue pushing this business forward.
How did the company of High Point begin and what role did you play in that?
My dad started High Point as a normal travel agency. They did airline tickets for corporate companies because anyone who wanted to go on vacation had to go through a travel agency. He started doing church youth groups snow ski trips and that’s how our involvement with churches began. I was about 8 years old when I started just helping around the office, but as I got older my high school job was to deliver paper airline tickets to some corporate clients--which was the only way you could do it. I would get out of school and come by the office to pick up the tickets and then take them to the client. Pretty good high school job if you ask me!
What made you want to be a part of this company?
Even though this was a family business, it wasn’t a part of my plan. I originally thought I wanted to go into ministry. My sophomore year of college was when I first started working on staff at my home church. Later I worked at a church in Waco for just a little while and then moved to a church in Dallas. I graduated school and went to seminary for about a year. While at seminary I was also working at High Point on the side just trying to make a little extra cash. When working at High Point, I realized how interested I was in the business side of how things worked and making everything more efficient. Over time I learned that I really loved business, and I realized church wasn't the only place to do ministry. So, I started volunteering at the church and transitioned to start working various jobs full time at High Point. While working different jobs at High Point it helped me learn what I was good at and what I was not good at. You learn by failing and that’s how I learned so much about the company and myself.
If you could tell yourself something 10 years ago that you know now, what would it be?
10 years ago I would have told myself that people matter more than money. Back then I was still learning the value of the relationships around me, because I was more money-focused. The relationships and lives that make up this company are far more important than how much we make. On the flip side of that I would also tell myself that keeping someone who is not being used to their full potential is not helping anyone out. If where they are right now is just a bad fit, it is not blessing them or helping them find where they would succeed the most. Understanding the balance of these two things is something I would want my younger self to know.
What is the most unglamorous part about being the leader of a company?
Probably being misunderstood. I have to make decisions that impact everyone in a different way and they are not always decisions that everyone agrees with. I think sometimes in my decision making process I can be too democratic, which hurts me in the long run. I have to look at a problem as a whole when thinking up different ways to solve it. If you start thinking about all the smaller impacts of what you do, you would never be able to do anything. There are a lot of choices that I have to make that impact other people’s lives. No one sees the whole problem all the time, so no matter how I make a decision, there is probably going to be someone who disagrees with it. Overall, if you care about people there is a burden of the responsibility to the people in this company. It’s not just money, it's 44 different families that are being affected
What drove you to start High Point Supply Co. and what keeps pushing you to want to take this business further?
I was in Zambia and I got to know a pastor there who was teaching women how to sew. He asked me if I would give him money so he could buy another sewing machine, because if they had another sewing machine that meant one more woman could learn how to sew. Being the business minded person I am, I didn’t want to just give him money, because I didn’t know how far that would go. I suggested that I buy the purses that the women made, that way they would get money for their sewing machine, and I would get purses I could take back to America with me to sell. The women would also get the satisfaction of knowing they sold something. That’s when I really started thinking how in America we have the benefit of a global market, but over there with 70%-80% unemployment, they don’t have that kind of opportunity. I wondered if we could start partnering with the ministries we were already working with and buy stuff from them at a fair price, that way they get paid and then we come back and capitalize on our network of 40,000 like-minded people to sell those products to here. My heart for people and business is what helped me think up how I can leverage together the relationships we already have all over the world. I think the reason I want to keep this business going is because 1. Everyone seems to be behind this idea and people think it is beneficial 2. I am stubborn. 3. Last year when we placed an order from one of our partners, they told me they had lost a whole days of work because when they got that order everyone went outside and sang and danced the rest of the day. That order helped put those ladies’ kids through school for the rest of the year. Being able to see the tangible impact of their lives just from a small order for us is what keeps me wanting to push forward. We’re making a difference in what we are doing. When we make money, we give it back in some way, which helps change lives. That’s why I want to keep pushing to take this bushiness further--I want to continue to change lives.