MEET CRAIG WILLIAMS

ABOUT CRAIG

Craig is 56 years old and has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 34 years. They have two married children, Steven (Brooke) Williams and Stephanie (Colin) Herr, three infant and toddler grandchildren: Chandler, Lucas, and Benjamin.

Craig grew up in Rockford, Illinois, the youngest child in a Democrat family. His father, Gary, often worked three jobs while his mom, Carol, kept the family fed and the kids in line. Among other things, the family moved houses in the fall and worked on them all winter to sell in the spring. Gary later started an excavating business and taught Craig the finer techniques of operating a shovel at the age of 12.

BECOMING CONSERVATIVE

Craig attended St. Edwards Catholic grade school. A class debate got him involved at the age of 12 in the campaign to elect Jimmy Carter. Four years of disappointment later (but still not old enough to vote) he changed support to Ronald Reagan instead. A bit concerned that his parents would not approve, he kept his support of Reagan to himself until his dad admitted supporting Reagan as well.

WORKING HARD

At 14, Craig worked for a music store selling guitars for the parents of Rick Nielsen of the rock band Cheap Trick; a job he didn’t fully appreciate until years later. At 16, Craig bagged groceries at a union store where membership in the International Food and Commercial Workers Union was compulsory. He remembers being told often to “slow down” by other union members. At 18, Craig was a Teamster, driving Mack dump trucks for his dad.

After high school, Craig attended Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Management and Information Systems in 1984. Graduating a semester early, Craig went to work for Arthur Anderson in downtown Chicago as a software developer/consultant. Having avoided learning assembly computer language while in college, Craig’s first job at Anderson was to write code for the IRS communications systems in assembly language. He was handed a book and a few days to learn it. By the end of the year, Craig was teaching assembly class for the project.

RAISING A FAMILY

Cindy and Craig were married in 1985. They soon left Chicago and moved back closer to home where Craig worked for The Thermos Company developing and maintaining software in more than a dozen languages. When their children were two- and three-years old, they determined Rockford was not a place they wanted to raise their kids. In 1991, they moved to Manning, Iowa, to work for Garst Seed Company in the IT department. Over the next seven years, Craig took on roles in credit, collections, accounts receivable, accounts payable, site management and IT responsibilities in both Coon Rapids and Slater, Iowa.

MAKING A CAREER

In 1998, Craig went to work for Midwest Seed Genetics in Carroll as their operations manager responsible for IT, customer service, shipping and supply management. In 2000, he was named Director of Operations for all of Channel Bio which included Midwest Seed, Crow’s, DEF and later, Wilson Seed Companies. Craig oversaw the successful overhaul of the company’s operations.

In 2004, Craig left Channel to manage Stauffer Seed Company. The company doubled sales and was very profitable, but a series of events at the parent company caused Stauffer to be closed down four years later. In 2008, Craig went on to manage Renze Seed Company and was instrumental in orchestrating its sale to Dow AgroSciences. Craig lead that operation, doubling its corn sales, until 2014.

Having been asked for a number of years by its founders to join The Context Network, a global network of agriculture business strategy consultants, Craig finally left the seed industry and created his own business contracting nearly full-time with The Context Network. In this occupation, Craig assists a variety of ag related businesses, large, small and start-ups, in mergers and acquisitions, new product launches, understanding the marketplace and assessing market conditions.

POLITICAL ACTIVITY

While attending college, Craig volunteered in 1982 to work on the re-election campaign of House Minority Leader, Bob Michel, and attended a fundraiser with keynote speaker President Ronald Reagan.  Over the next few decades, Craig volunteered for the Carroll County Republican Party, door knocking for various candidates including Jerry Behn in 2000. In 2008, Craig was elected to become the Chairman of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee and remains in the role today. In 2008, Carroll hosted its first and quite successful District Convention. Congressman Steve King honored Craig as the District’s “Chairman of the Year.” In 2010, Craig became and remains as treasurer for King for Congress. Also in 2010, Craig was elected to the Iowa Republican State Central Committee (SCC) where he was subsequently elected to the role of Party Treasurer. The SCC position was lost in 2012 when a well-organized group swept the Party. Although no longer a member of the SCC, Craig saw the Party successfully through a two-year FEC audit. In 2013, Craig was instrumental in resurrecting the long-forgotten “District Executive Committee.” In 2014, Craig was re-elected to the SCC and continues representing the 4th District at the Republican Party of Iowa. 

Craig and Cindy Williams with Mike and Karen Pence
Craig Williams with Chuck Grassley
Craig Williams with Carly Fiorina
Craig Williams with Jeb Bush
Craig Williams with Rick Santorum
Craig Williams with Terry Branstad