Eddie Smith sticks with his employees, and they certainly stick with him. Many have been there for decades; senior managers all have from at least 18 to over 40 years with the company. Caring and continuity are Grady-White company traditions. Through tough economic climates and good years, through hurricanes, floods, and also the fairest of weather, Eddie and his management team have built an incredibly loyal family of experienced workers, managers, and dealers at Grady-White who are the envy of the industry.
One gutsy call that resulted from Eddie’s loyalty to employees was his selection in 1993 of a new president of Grady-White Boats to replace Wiley Corbett, who was retiring. The position was coveted throughout the marine industry. Eddie knew what had created success for his debt-free, customer-focused company. He knew that he wanted someone who would “do the right thing.” So Eddie chose Kris Carroll, a “feisty Yankee from Massachusetts” who had joined Grady-White in 1975 as a production control clerk, and had risen through the ranks. She clearly understood Eddie’s attention to detail and focus on the customer, and his desire to take that focus to a new level. Eddie’s choice absolutely astonished the industry; at the time, Kris was the first woman in such a position. But Eddie knew his customers were family fishermen, and he knew Kris believed in his goals. Kris has taken the company to new heights, partly with her motivational skills and certainly with the tried and true Grady-White process: customer involvement to ensure satisfaction and exceptional attention to every detail.