How to Keep Your Best Employee


How to Keep Your Best Employee

Allan Crockett, Terrie Crockett and Laurie Tresch changed their relationship from employers/employee to business partners.
Allan Crockett, Terrie Crockett and Laurie Tresch changed their relationship from employers/employee to business partners.

“Once you find somebody who shares your values and work ethic, you have to make a decision on how to keep them. If you just increase their salary, you still risk losing them at any point. Laurie Tresch was an employee we needed to keep,” said Allan Crockett, who with his wife Terrie and sons runs Hilco, Crockett Farms and Gulf Coast Contractors.

“Laurie is the face of Hilco, the person customers deal with. She has been instrumental in building good customer relations. She has also improved the manufacturing process and expedited production. She has found new markets and has positioned our company for continued growth,” Crockett explained.

“Being in several partnerships over the years, I realized that being an owner/partner in a business enterprise makes you vested and dedicated to the company’s success. That experience convinced me that when you have a great employee, critical to the business, you want to make sure they have the best interest in the company at heart.”

Hilco’s roots can be traced back to 1938. Back then, it manufactured ag-related products such as horse blankets, canvas water buckets and feed/crop tarps. Over the years, Hilco evolved into an industrial textile supplier. Oil field and manufacturing clients became an important focus, which continues to this day. Targeting mid-stream production and manufacturing process needs, the highly specialized product line was manufactured at their Houston facilities until 2007. That was the year Hilco made the move to consolidate its industrial side with its ag and recreational product production under one roof at its Harlingen facility. The move has streamlined management and improved quality and logistics.

Hilco general manager Laurie Tresch confirms a boat cover pattern with long-time employee Manuel Lugo.
Hilco general manager Laurie Tresch confirms a boat cover pattern with long-time employee Manuel Lugo.

Recently, the Crocketts offered Tresch a percentage ownership of Hilco and, she accepted the offer, which includes a share of the company’s profits. In the interim, Tresch’s performance reaffirmed the Crocketts’ decision.

“When someone not only does the job well, but excels at it, you have to recognize that and act on it,” Crockett said. “She has the ability to spot market opportunities and monetize them successfully. We’re heavily into oilfield products, which fluctuate with the price of oil. Laurie was key in adapting products to fit the needs of the changing oil field.” With the automation of new rigs, Tresch recognized the opportunity to offer more products: computer console covers, protection for weather-sensitive hardware, fire equipment covers and everything in between.

“I was surprised and very honored,” said Tresch, who has worked with the Crockett businesses for five years. “It’s turned from a job into a passion, something you want to put your heart and soul into, a labor of love.”

“Hilco has provided products for the oilfield for over 30 years, things that no one else in America makes. We have a high level of customer service, on-time delivery and maintain good relationships with clients and industry peers. It’s important to me to keep the legacy alive, even as trends change and machinery changes, we continually adapt to new technology.”

Tresch, now general manager, came to Hilco with retail management experience and has run her own online business, but she learned much more on the job. “I see Terrie as my mentor. The things she and Allan taught me have been priceless: everything about the business side and what it takes to maintain a factory.” She is proud of Hilco’s fabrication team, which includes team leaders Manuel Lugo and Mary Lou Guerrero, with more than 30 years’ experience.

“The textile industry is very dynamic and evolving. I have been able to streamline our supply chain to expedite turn around for our customers and quality control has been improved as well. Whether you’re a long-time customer, or a one-time embroidery client, I strive to provide a high level of service and commitment to all.”

While Hilco still manufactures a wide variety of ag products, the strongest growth has been in the recreational and industrial divisions. “From boat covers and hunting gear, which includes our one-of-a-kind Gun Mattress, to welding curtains and heat shields plus the very active industrial/oil field service sector, I take pride in being able to say our products are made in the U.S.A, and our clients agree.”

When Tresch became a partner, it changed office dynamics in a good way. “Now when people ask if Laurie works for me,” Crockett said. “I tell them, ‘No, she doesn’t work for me. She’s a partner.’ I like being her partner, not her boss. Her opinion is respected.”

As for Tresch, she equates becoming a partner with being adopted into a family. “It’s more than a business, it’s a family. It becomes part of who you are. It’s so much more than going to work. This is what you do,” she said.

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Freelance writer Eileen Mattei was the editor of Valley Business Report for over 6 years. Her articles have appeared in Texas Highways, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Parks & Wildlife and Texas Coop Power magazines as well as On Point: The Journal of Army History. The Harlingen resident is the author of five books: Valley Places, Valley Faces; At the Crossroads: Harlingen’s First 100 Years; and Leading the Way: McAllen’s First 100 Years, For the Good of My Patients: The History of Medicine in the Rio Grande Valley, and Quinta Mazatlán: A Visual Journey.