Family-Oriented Leader Creates a Lasting Legacy, Douglas Electric President Awarded Legacy Award

    In the late 1990s, Paige Levy entered the family business amid family tragedy and emerged as a top-notch leader 30 years later earning her the ABC legacy award.

    Douglas Electric was founded in 1975 by Douglas Cryderman, running the company out of his home and from a 1,000 square-foot warehouse nearby. Since then, the company has grown to occupy an 8,000 square-foot office and warehouse in Wyandotte, MI. In 1999, Levy took the helm and continues to manage Douglas Electric in her father’s vision — a company that emphasizes high-quality, personalized service and takes care of its employees first.

    Growing up in Grosse Ille, a young Levy saw first-hand what hard work brings. Her parents ran a bike-shop on the island while her dad was getting his start as a handy man. He was trained at the time through Local 58 and started as a residential electrician. Cryderman relied on word-of-mouth referrals to grow his business into what is now Douglas Electric.

    “We didn’t live a life of luxury. But we also didn’t know any different,” Levy said. “We had a house and we had parents that cared about us. We spent a lot of time at the bike shop helping my mom since she was the one to take over that business when my dad started a new one.”
    Project-by-project, Douglas Electric began taking off and Levy recalled that in the early 90s it was time for the family to move the business out of their home into a larger space in Southgate. Levy started working part-time in the office in an administrative role, slowly learning the business. It wasn’t a role she necessarily thought long-term about, but rather a way to help her dad out temporarily. Sadly, for the Cryderman family, an unexpected death caused a shuffle at the business and Levy was called to step-up and carry on her dad’s legacy while creating her own.

    “When I came into the business, it took a while to find my footing. As a woman entering the construction field in the ’90s, it had every potential to drive me away. I didn’t come from the field like my dad, so I didn’t know a lot of the pain points the employees had,” Levy said. “I spent those first years just listening. I got to know our employees and their families.”

    Levy continued saying that mentorship played a large role in her learning to become the next leader of her family’s company.
    “My dad was very involved in ABC, even helping the trade school launch back in the 80s. When he was ready to step down from the board, I filled his place and I took the opportunity to seek mentorship from my fellow board members to be a strong leader for Douglas Electric employees and women in the industry,” Levy said.

    Become a strong leader she did. Levy recalled that it wasn’t shortly after taking over, 2008 brought looming financial hardship, like most businesses. Levy was determined to make sure her employees were taken care of first.

    “We survived, barely, but we made it through one of the toughest times as a company. We didn’t have work like everyone else, we had our lien tapped out and we had to figure out all of these things,” Levy said. “But you know those are the things that you build upon and you learn to trust your gut and intuition as a leader, and then you just grow.”

    Levy said despite the challenges and doubt when she first stepped into her role, it was all worth it for the employees. Culture was a key focus and a priority because if it was done right, Douglas Electric would make it through the 2008 recession and flourish into something great.
    “How do you ask your employees to continue to show up to work when you don’t know if or when the jobs will pick up,” Levy said. “It made me reflect heavily on what’s important to keep our doors open and it was making sure my employees felt heard, needed and respected. It’s why we started Douglas Day. Family is everything not just to me, but also our workers and we wanted to celebrate that. It’s why we all show up to work.”

    Today, Douglas Electric employs over 40 men and women in a variety of roles. They have grown into a leader in the industry thanks to one woman’s attention to her employees.

    Paige Levy now joins the other ABC Southeastern Michigan Legacy winners as the first woman leader. Congratulations Paige and may you continue to set an example not just for your peers, but for women of all ages entering construction!