The world and the stone industry lost the physical presence of a great person recently, however, Larry Crowley’s contributions left a legacy to our industry. On June 20th of this year, Larry Crowley made the journey to be with his almighty father. I lift my glass to celebrate the life of a dear friend and a great man.

When Larry entered the stone industry with his business partner, Chris Sorenson, their business was ideally named, “Cutting Edge.” In hindsight, that name was an accurate reflection of Larry’s contributions to our industry. He was truly a pioneer that pushed our industry to advance and evolve a fabrication company’s business practices.

Larry's inquisitive nature propelled his relentless pursuit for raising the bar and innovating our industry. If your company has adapted new innovative systems and processes over the last decade, there is a strong chance Larry Crowley's fingerprints were on some of them in one form or another. The founding father of the Rockheads Group being one of them!

I can vividly remember traveling with Larry on a stone purchasing trip to Brazil. We had one free afternoon before our host was picking us up. Being the social bugs we were, Larry and I found ourselves at a sidewalk café cooling down with our beverage of choice. Larry quickly observed the tenacity and selling skills of a young child who was between five and seven years old. He told me to watch how the kid operated and worked the crowd. Within minutes, we transitioned from observers to active target prospects in the direct line of fire for this terminator of a salesperson. The product being presented -- small packages of candy Sweet Tarts. List price: $0.25/package. We pleasantly declined the first offer, as well as the next proceeding 14 offers. And that’s when the kid went into salesmanship overdrive. Before we knew it, the juvenile sales guru was sold out of inventory and both our wallets were $15 lighter. Within minutes, the inventory was replenished, and the kid was open for business again -- actively prospecting for new customers. Larry was convinced we needed to start filming this sales professional in action. When I asked, “Why would we want to do that?” His reply, “So we can show and teach our sales teams how to overcome objections and close deals … I wonder if the kid is interested in selling countertops?”

If you were fortunate enough to know Larry, you know how much he prioritized the “fun” meter. You would also know how much better the room became if Larry was present. I’m sure Larry got upset at some points of his life. There had to be times when he was a moody little b!tc#, come on the dude was human. However, I can say with complete confidence that I never recall him in a bad mood. How many people do you know that could claim that feat? Foul moods and negative energy were just not part of Larry’s character. In fact, it’s hard to remember a time when he didn’t have a huge smile on his face. His positive vibe was contagious, and if you were blessed enough to know Larry, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If Larry was going to be involved, you were going to have fun. Larry’s enthusiasm, positive energy and zest for life were always contagious. Larry was magnetic. He was the walking definition of “Emotional Intelligence” before EI was a thing. He could read a room and the people in it like no one I've ever met before. And most importantly, he made others better.

Similar to the famous skit from Saturday Night Live, “We need more cowbell”… We need more Larrys surrounding us every day!

One of Larry’s most admirable qualities was his compassion and service for others. Based on what we see dominating the daily national news headlines, we could all use some refresher lessons to lead more productive lives for supporting one another. As the world seems to be racing in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting humanity, we need some more Larrys!

Larry was all about helping and serving others. Larry wanted to win, however, he wanted others to win as well. Larry was always the person willing to give other people credit for achieving team goals and victories, even if he was the driver that made it all happen. He was solution oriented. Instead of bitching and complaining about a problem, Larry always seemed to put his effort and energy into solving the problem and crafting a viable solution.

Larry was a learner, a sponge. He was always asking people, “How did you do that? Can you teach me how?” Because Larry checked his ego at the door, he knew he didn’t always have the answers. He was always in constant learning mode. Yet, another refreshing quality we should all seek to duplicate.

If Larry had a tag line, it could be: “Maximize fun, with and for, others.”

Highlights & Contributions:

  • The RockHeads Group
    • The creation of Rockheads Group was born out of a conversation between two strangers, at an industry event, who sat next to each other on a shuttle bus. The Rockheads Group was born when Larry and I struck up a conversation that quickly turned into comparing operational performance metrics of our companies. Larry's eager curiosity to continue our conversation the following week led to the official creation of The RockHeads Group USA. Within a week, he and I had a concept of peer companies learning and growing by exchanging best practices with one another. A name (RockHeads - owners of rock companies) and an URL.  Larry quickly became a great friend and an industry thought leader.
  • Sales Management 101
    • Larry was not a stone guy, but a marketing and sales guru. He had the foresight to proactively bring the concept of organizing and professionalizing the sales process in the countertop world. His company was one of the first in our industry to create sales teams that proactively focused on generating new sales orders compared to the norm of the “sit back and wait order takers.” For example, his sales team was wildly successful by the simple concept of being accessible to customers on when it was convenient for them to shop, Saturdays and Sundays. I can remember him telling me, “You know the auto dealerships have the right idea, be accessible to your customers when they are available and professionally manage the sales metrics.” His company was the first stone fabricator that I’m aware of that proactively generated direct retail sales with great margins. They crafted the process of “building order makers vs. order takers.”
  • Winning Compensation Plans
    • He was a pioneer of performance compensation. He took the time to develop and implement compensation plans and systems that drove and aligned the right employee behaviors, which supported company objectives. He and I spoke often about how so many companies have compensation plans where the company objectives and an individual’s interest are in direct conflict.
  • Servant Leadership
    • He invested huge amounts of time and energy to save The Boys & Girls Club in his community. If it wasn’t for Larry, the organization would not have survived. There are simply too many organizations and people to list that Larry served for many years. A lot of people talk a big game, however, Larry lived it. He was a true servant leader.
  • Mr. Humility
    • Most admirable was his genuine sense of humility. In a day and age where this character trait seems hard to find in people, Larry embraced and practiced it daily. It was never beneath Larry to ask, seek and learn how to get better. He always displayed a lot of gratitude towards others and gave credit where credit was due, which was so refreshing.

The stone industry is better off because Larry was a part of it. He left a legacy that has impacted a lot of us in one form or another.

To honor my friend, Larry, I would like to encourage our audience to participate in a Seven Days of Crowley Challenge. It’s simple. Over the next seven days, force yourself to do the following:

  • Smile big
  • Learn something new
  • Pour yourself into others (With no expectations of receiving anything in return.)
  • Be solution oriented (Instead of complaining about a problem, offer a solution to fix it.)
  • Be a source of positive energy (Even when you don’t feel like it.)

If you can execute these five simple principles and check those boxes each day, I’m confident you will make your circle of influence a better place. Larry lived his life demonstrating these values every day. I would love to hear your feedback and experience from your seven days of Crowley Challenge. 

Cheers, and the most heartfelt "THANK YOU" goes out to a true friend and colleague, Larry Crowley. I love you and I will miss you dearly.

Eric Tryon