Michigan Operations Manager, Gerken Materials, Inc.
Listening to Todd Crane talk about himself, it’s easy to sense how two individuals greatly influenced his life—one by inspiring a strong work ethic and an interest in learning and the other by showing him the type of leader Todd never wants to become.
As Michigan Operations Manager for Gerken Materials, Inc., Todd Crane oversees the company’s safety, quality, and production around the state. He has been working in the sand and gravel business (or, as he calls it, “playing in the dirt”) for 33 years. He was at Stansley Mineral Resources when that company merged with Gerken eleven years ago. The transition provided him with a pleasant surprise.
“I expected to still have the grind that comes with the industry, of course,” recalls Todd. “But I was amazed how much everyone at Gerken truly cares about their work.”
Todd quickly discovered that he and his new team had much in common. Most had grown up in the construction materials business at a time when employees were often expected to figure out on their own how things worked. Because of those experiences, the combined group possesses valuable knowledge.
Speaking of being self-taught, Todd determined how to be a good leader by observing a bad one. Early in his career, he worked at a company where the boss led by intimidation, holding everyone’s job over their heads so they constantly feared being fired. Todd vowed never to treat employees that way.
Instead, he prefers challenging team members to be their best and learn something new daily. And he strives to keep abreast of how each is doing—professionally and personally.
A Great Influence
Todd grew up in Manitou Beach, Michigan, living on the lake and being raised by his single father. He still lives in Manitou Beach, having never moved more than a mile from his childhood home.
When he was 14 and attending Addison High School, Todd started working. His first job was pumping gas at his father’s marina. After graduating, his dream was to become a conservation officer. Instead, he tried a few different jobs, including working in a slaughterhouse.
Then, when Todd was 20, he and his dad began building the Wolf Creek Golf Course in Adrian, Michigan. With the golf course completed two years later, Todd got into mining.
Active throughout their community, Todd’s father was well-known and liked, and he set an excellent standard to emulate. Indeed, Todd is following in his dad’s footsteps by serving as a Rollin Township Board Trustee.
Todd lost his father to cancer in 2020 at the age of 81.
“We had a wonderful relationship,” says Todd. “Because he raised me alone and we later worked together, we were especially close. When he passed away, we were comforted knowing that nothing was going unsaid between us.”
Todd and his wife, Ashley, have been together for 17 years and married for ten. They have two sons (Gordon and Mason, both working in construction), two daughters (Jennifer and Abby), and two grandkids (Jemma and Jaci). They also have three rescue dogs named KC, Holy, and Teddy. The family loves taking vacations together and spending time on their boat at Devils Lake.
Those who know Todd know about his passion for learning. “If you’re not learning, you’re not paying attention,” says the guy who enjoys attending work conferences.
Many might be surprised to learn that Todd likes to follow court trials. While working on his computer, he often listens to live streams from Michigan courtrooms. He also loves watching murder mysteries on television.
Most people at work know Todd for his ability to solve problems and keep everything ticking. But Todd wants coworkers to understand how much he enjoys being part of the Gerken team.
“I hope they like working with me,” says Todd, “because I love working with them.”
“If you’re not learning, you’re not paying attention.”