Chuck Crawford Helps UD Rowers Find Success On and Off the Water

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IncNow’s John L. Williams

Chuck Crawford and other Delaware business owners volunteer to coach University of Delaware rowers to be successful. The oarsmen, in turn, help their coaches’ businesses succeed.

Most athletes look up to their coaches as mentors, but often lose touch with them when their days of competing are over. But, not many coaches have had more of an effect on their crew than Chuck Crawford, who has helped many of his former athletes in their professional careers.

Crawford is president and CEO of ACW Corporation, the owner and operator of twenty Arby’s Restaurants, with corporate headquarters in Newport, Del. He is also the volunteer head rowing coach of the University of Delaware Men’s Club Crew (“Delaware Crew”) that practices in the fall, winter and spring, six days per week.

Crawford’s first major coaching success came in 1980, while he served as the volunteer head coach of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. In 1980, Crawford’s crew won the scholastic high school national championship. In 1990, Crawford helped bring junior rowing to Wilmington, Del. Crawford then founded the Delaware Crew program in the spring of 1991, while simultaneously coaching the women’s program as a volunteer coach and growing his ACW Corporation business. Over the years, Crawford has helped athletes after college, including one rower, Ivan Mikic from Serbia, who worked as a manager for one of ACW’s Arby’s restaurants while he obtained his MBA after he graduated from UD.

In 2001, Crawford reconnected with John L. Williams, one of his former athletes from the early days of Wilmington junior crew. Williams came to Delaware Crew after graduating law school at Emory University. Williams volunteer coached at Emory University for two years while in law school. “He was a big part of the seven-member coaching staff at Delaware crew when he was a young lawyer, and we started a great friendship,” says Crawford. While coaching, Williams simultaneously worked with his father at The Williams Law Firm and IncNow, a Delaware commercial registered agent that serves more than 16,000 companies. Crawford and Williams knew they could help the rowers find success both on and off the water.

Throughout Crawford’s and Williams’ coaching tenure at Delaware Crew, the student-athletes and other coaches contributed to IncNow, earning professional work experience. Some worked on Sundays by helping IncNow prepare and send Delaware Corporate Annual Report and Delaware LLC Annual Franchise Tax Notices, whereas others joined the IncNow team directly after graduation.

Crawford’s son, Brian, a former rower with Wilmington’s junior crew and a practicing attorney for a decade, was recently named one of the directors of The Williams Law Firm. A number of promising oarsmen and coaches have passed through the ranks at IncNow, including Andrew Bennett, Jesse Silliman, Phil Kleiman, Joe Kleiman, Joe Federici, Zayln Bajor, Sean Rader, Greg Hartshorne, Will Purman, Jack Neff, and Ryan Jornlin. These gentlemen assisted IncNow in all areas, including IT, website development, legal research, incorporation filings, and marketing. “By providing opportunities to promising athletes and young professionals, it is our hope to help their development in their chosen career, while allowing them to reach the medals platform at the highest levels of collegiate and international competition,” says Williams.

IncNow’s IT Director, Will Purman (UD ’13), is currently a member of the Puerto Rican National Rowing Team. He is the men’s single sculler, and is currently training to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Last year, Purman finished 20th of 36 at the World Championship Regatta in France.

Joe Kleiman and Phil Kleiman, current Delaware Crew coaches, both worked for IncNow while they started their landscaping business, Delaware Lawn Crew LLC. When it began, Delaware Lawn Crew LLC also offered summer work for Delaware Crew oarsmen. Their motto was: “mowing to support rowing.” They now have about 1,000 customers in New Castle County.

Delaware Crew is a frequent winner and medalist at the Dad Vail Regatta, and continues to supply athletes to the U.S. National Rowing Team. Four current UD oarsmen, Mike Senf, Andrew Kershaw, Corey Brown, and Reid Cucci, qualified for and represented the United States in the Men’s Quadruple Scull at the Under 23 World Championships in Bulgaria last summer. Crawford and Williams coached these rowers and IncNow sponsored this crew.

The Delaware Crew athletes are motivated, high performance individuals. Helping these athletes succeed on and off the water, and developing these individuals to be successful in their careers and community after college is the goal and the standard for Delaware Crew coaches. Rowing is not a “glory sport.” These rowers work hard and are good at collaborating in team environments. Rowing is a merit-based sport where, regardless of innate talent, the harder you work, the faster you will go.

But, what makes rowers such valuable employees? “Rowing is made of Type A personalities,” says Crawford. “They are all driven by strong work ethics. Most people that get involved stay involved, and go on to be very successful.” In addition to Williams’ law practice and Delaware registered agent services, Williams is president of Wilmington Rowing Center and chairman of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, where a few rowers have joined the volunteer crew. It is all very symbiotic: success in athletics tends to correlate with success in business and the community. The Delaware Crew coaches have enjoyed giving back to the rowing community and these relationships have helped their businesses blossom too.

 

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