A quick scan of his LinkedIn profile and you’d see that Kasey Craven has more than two decades of experience building companies through his own expertise and talent acquisition. But if you never went beyond his profile or biography on The Newell Group’s website, you might not know how recruiting shaped both his professional and personal life. In this week’s edition of The Newell Group’s “Beyond the Recruiter” blog series, meet Kasey Craven, the Director of Recruiting for Food and Beverage Manufacturing.
How did you get your start in recruiting?
Actually, I got my start by accident. Graduated from college, didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. A gentleman next door had interviewed for a company in Charlotte and came back and was telling me about how amazing the growth was and just what a fun environment it was and that I should go interview. I said, “Okay, sounds great, what do they do?” And he’s like “Ahh, I don’t know. They do something, I think in recruiting, or airplanes, or something like that.” Anyway, I called them up, went up and interviewed. The interview went well, went down to Atlanta, actually the day after I graduated college and was offered the job.
Still didn’t know exactly what we did. I remember sitting in the last interview and saying, “Okay, what am I doing? Am I headhunter or what? And he said look around do you see any heads around my desk? And I said, “no” . He said, “We’re not a headhunter, we’re a recruiting firm.”
You created the Food Manufacturing team at The Newell Group. How did you build it with no prior experience in the industry?
Recruiting is recruiting. I think what really helped me was that I had a couple of experiences that really helped with me building the group here. One was that I’d move down from Charlotte to Greenville back in 1996 to actually start our office in Grenville at the time. So I had experience, one building an office pretty much from scratch, and then two all this was back really before the internet. So, I had experience rolling up my sleeves and digging in and figuring out how to build something with very limited resources.
And it’s been the same here, coming over here we really had no previous food and beverage experience before so really just relying upon my experience to build something, and build something with maybe some limited resources and put it together. And that’s been hard work but well worth it, something I really enjoy.
Last year was a great year. It was one of those years where a lot of things just fell into place between clients hiring, finding some really good candidates, and just a lot of marketing that I had been doing maybe the year before expanded by a few clients as well. So very, very fortunate.
Tell me a funny story that sticks out in your mind from your years of connecting with clients and candidates.
I think one in particular that’s kind of lived in the lure of a company previously was we had a gentleman working for us at a client in the local area and on his way to work he found a chicken on the side of the road. Not only was it a chicken but it was a featherless chicken, it was a bald chicken.
So being the kind heart that he was he picked the chicken up and took it to work and didn’t want to leave it in the car so he took the chicken into his work place and had a featherless, bald chicken sitting on his desk at work for the day.
The client called us and told us the story and it was very hard to believe. Had to call the gentleman and just make sure he knew that okay, this is not something that he could do everyday and he said no, he just had no place to leave the chicken. But he had arrangements so he was going to take the chicken home and take care of him there.
We had a lot of stories like that sometimes you’d have to just deal with and roll with those punches. They just don’t really give you any kind of instruction manual when you go through recruiter training that can cover every single scenario that you may face.
What are some things about Kasey Craven you wouldn’t learn from reading his biography or resume?
It’s interesting because really despite this job being Type-A, extrovert personalities we really have to be, when I’m at home I enjoy a few things where it’s just me by myself. That quiet time, whether it’s mountain biking, doing some yard projects around the house, just something to where I can be by myself, in my thoughts, be myself and have some quiet time.
And then the other thing is, I pretty much never stop. I’m always going. I never really sit down. The only time I can sit down and relax is if I’m at my in-laws house or at the beach. Other than that I am pretty much go-go-go all the time. I just never have been the kind to sit still, I enjoy always being on the go, doing something.
What are your favorite memories from your recruiting career so far?
I was going through a really tough time one time many years ago, and I had a client that was just really giving me fits. It was actually one of my best clients where I had a tremendous amount of business but the manager was just the most difficult person ever to deal with. Not only for me, but for the folks I had working at this client’s site. And he had a very bad reputation within the business community of not being a good person to work for and work with. He finally pushed the last button on me and I remember I wanted to send off an email and tell him I didn’t want to do business with him anymore.
I remember my boss walking in and reading that email, kind of talking me off the ledge, talking some sense into me, telling me to suck it up and find a way to work with him. We did. We weren’t best friends but we found a way to manage and make it work. And what that did was catapult me into a 10-15 year run of some high success. So I look at that and if that didn’t happen, who knows what would have happened after that. So that certainly helped me to be where I am today.
Another unique story of where we are, I ended up actually meeting my wife through recruiting as well. I hired her college roommate to be a recruiter in our office and we ended up meeting through that way. We joke about it all the time. Things just happen for a reason.