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A Brush with Greatness Carries a ‘Farm Boy’ Far

Everett Crosby wanted a job, so he took classes in residential wiring. He never imagined what he learned would take him across the ocean and back, and land him an engineering career.


Everett Crosby wanted to make sure he had a job after graduating. But under the wing of an instructor who understood his limited experience, he learned new skills and had the world open up to him.

His instructor at Medina (Ohio) County Career Center, Vernon Wertz, had raised six sons of his own. He knew what “a farm boy without a lot of cultural enhancement was like,” Crosby explains. Through local, state and national competition, Wertz offered his encouragement: Do whatever it takes. Don’t worry too much.

That advice took Crosby to Cork, Ireland, as a Residential Wiring contestant in what’s now the WorldSkills Competition. Some 25 years later, he still seems mystified at the opportunity.

At the internationals, “I [placed] seventh out of nine contestants,” Crosby recalls. “Their wiring materials were completely different. I had to learn on the fly as I was competing, taking the skills that I already had, picking up a new set of materials on the spot and going at it.”

Going to another country was an eye-opener in other ways. “To see automobiles half the size of ours, streets half the size of our streets, to see houses half as big as our houses, and to think, ‘Wow, these people live this way,’ I came back to the United States of America thinking, ‘I am so thankful for everything we have here.’”

Crosby worked for an electrical contractor, then for a small manufacturing plant, before going to the University of Akron to get a degree in electrical engineering. He started at Wooster Brush Co., the largest privately held manufacturer of paint brushes and rollers in the United States, 20 years ago. He’s now an electrical and packaging engineer.

Crosby’s earnest, methodical approach to getting things done is evident as he explains his work. He designs packaging machinery and installs it, start to finish. He works with salespeople to start developing the layout of the machine. Once it’s built, he checks that the machine is ready to ship back to the company. Then he trains the workers to run the equipment.

He uses Wertz’s advice to this day.

“One of the things that my instructor told us when we were working on the different levels of our competitions was, ‘Plan your work, and then work your plan,’” Crosby says. “The second thing he told us was, ‘In competition, we do whatever it takes.’

“I brought those tips along in my life, and sometimes I just do whatever it takes. If it means doing something that’s more than what my job title calls for, I don’t worry about it. I just do it and help the project move forward. My goal is to do the best that I can with my abilities for the company ... for society.”

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SkillsUSA Champions | Winter 2007 | Volume 41, No. 2
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