Alan Crabtree

Learning and Development Leader, Davis-Ulmer Sprinkler Co. (an APi Group company) in Syracuse, New York. Retired U.S. Army Officer

I enlisted in the army in 1988, right out of high school. Over the course of 28 years of active duty service I deployed overseas 15 times. I worked as a Military Intelligence analyst, a cryptology analyst, Special Forces for 12 years, and in 2005 I was commissioned as an officer.

The army introduces people to leadership at an early age and provides wide-ranging situations for leadership growth, and for me it was no different. Each of the three distinct phases of my military career contributed greatly to my leadership approach. I learned that regardless of the industry, language, or geographical location everything is personality driven.

By 2016, at the age of 45, I decided it was time to make a career move. There are job search companies that exist only to find positions for departing military officers. I learned about APi Group through one of these companies. I knew right away it was the place I wanted to be. We’re talking about a specialty construction company with a stated enduring purpose that has nothing to do with construction. Building Great Leaders says everything about what they believe; they believe in people, and that’s awesome.

How the Army Taught Me to See

I came to APi Group as a Leadership Development Program (LDP) candidate. No matter who you are coming in — just out of college or coming from the military — chances are you don’t know a whole lot about all of the APi Group industries. The LDP introduces you to seven companies and you spend anywhere from five to seven weeks at each one. You can pick the brains of people every day and you learn so much. That was important for me because everything I see, everything I feel, touch, smell — it’s all filtered through the lens of the army; it’s the way I relate to everything. Every situation I got into during the different APi Group rotations, I subconsciously sorted through these different experiences in the military until I found, okay, this matches that situation and this is what was successful. It exposes you a thousand different settings that allow you to fine-tune your approach. I still do that, even now.

When I came out of the LDP rotation I worked with Davis-Ulmer Sprinkler Co. at their Connecticut branch and then transferred up to Syracuse where I put together my pitch for the learning and development position I have now. The army has something called warrant officers — they are subject matter experts in a focused field. I used to say that if the army had a warrant officer for training and development, I would do that for the rest of my life. For me the greatest job satisfaction comes from helping others strive for and reach their potential.

When the Soldiers Win, We All Win

I’ve got a long list of initiatives on three different white boards in my office and I wake up every day thinking about how to help the people in Davis Ulmer and APi Group. One of our current initiatives is a Department of the Army approved internship program. During their last six months of military service soldiers can spend up to 18 weeks with us, paid by the army, while we teach them about the company. That allows them to see if they like what it is that we do. And we get to assess the person, see if they’ve got the right drive, attitude, and aptitude for our company. If they do, at the end of those 18 weeks that person can get out of the army on a Friday and start work with us on the Monday. It’s a winning situation for everyone: the veteran wins because they have a new career that they like, we win because of the increase in company talent and leadership, and the future transitioning soldiers win because they know about the great career choice that is available to them when they depart the service.

I don’t know what role I will have in the future. What I do know is that as long as it is up to me that role will be within APi Group.