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#WyoStrong: From steel-toed boots to a collared shirt and slacks

*Feature photo: Dave Craft at his Farm Bureau Financial Services location on Main Street in Sheridan. / Pitchengine Communities photo* (Sheridan, Wyo.) — Maybe you know Dave Craft through his work at Craftco Metals Services, Inc . Maybe you know him as the tallest member of the locally-famous "bluegrass ... and then some" Craft Brothers band. Maybe you now know him as an insurance and investments agent with Farm Bureau Financial Services . However you know him, you probably know that he is innovative, driven and smart. And that drive is what has gotten him where he is, through three of Wyoming's vicious boom and bust cycles. That drive is what has led him to his current job, guiding him on a path of personal diversification and business diversification. At age 14, Dave started working for his family's business, Sheridan-based Craftco Metals Services, Inc., doing anything from janitorial work to odd jobs. He worked hard until he headed to Laramie to study business administration and finance, where he met his wife Jennifer before heading back to northern Wyoming. In the spring of 2001, he returned to Craftco as the shop manager, and took on the role of general manager around 2009. But by May or June of 2015, Craftco's revenue stream had seen a significant downturn, like many other service companies aligned with the oil, gas, coal and other energy industries. "I have seen three of these cycles since 2001, and this one, this 2015 one, it has been the most impactful," Dave said. And in what could be described as a noble move—not a word Dave himself would use—he looked at Craftco's operations budget and realized the easiest cut would be his own job. He had employees he trusted, and with his parents as co-owners, Dave decided to leave the day-to-day operations as a cost-savings mechanism and pursue a lifelong dream of working in finance. With his education in business/finance, and a friend and ally in FBFS agency manager Troy Stone, he decided to change career paths. Now he works in a downtown office on Main Street, a location he has occupied since January 1 this year, and essentially comes to work and does the same job he says he has always done: He helps people. But he is still a little uncomfortable in his new wardrobe. "I used to be seen in a hoodie, jeans ... steel toed-boots," he told Dally, smiling on a recent sunny Wednesday morning at his downtown location, wearing a collared shirt and slacks. And now, he says, he is challenged in new and positive ways, both at Farm Bureau and as a an off-site director of Craftco. Interestingly, Craftco began as what Dave called a "job shop," when Dave's parents started the operation in 1981, just one welder and a truck. The company grew, served bigger and bigger needs, and now has found ways to branch out manufacturing—while becoming a local job shop again. "We are really reaching out geographically, especially in our machine shop," Dave explained. Because of innovative planning, Craftco has grown where it can in this market, so field services has seen a sharp decline, but manufacturing has expanded. And that is what keeps innovators going. When asked how to face the sometimes bleak Wyoming economy, Dave pauses. "That is a question I have been asked a lot lately. It is one I have asked myself," he says. "But our main motivation is to take care of our employees, who have been taking care of us for years. It is hugely important to us to take care of them, and to provide them with high-quality jobs. And in the end, this is going to be a good thing for Craftco." #wyostrong #dally #news #buckrail #springcity #county17 #county10 #oilcity #shortgo #reboot