VP of HR
Darlene Crowder joined Saltchuk in 2014 as Foss Maritime’s Vice President of Human Resources. She transitioned to NorthStar Energy on a part-time basis in late 2021 as the Vice President of Human Resources, and then full-time in early 2022.
“The geographic ‘footprint’ of Foss and NorthStar are similar in many ways, yet the fuel logistics industry was new to me,” Crowder said. “I saw it as an exciting opportunity to learn something new.”
What advantages do you see to growing within the same family of companies rather than seeking external opportunities?
This has been one of the easiest career transitions I have ever made. So many of the people, programs, and practices throughout Saltchuk were already familiar to me, so I feel as if I was able to begin work at NorthStar and get right to business. The learning curve was significantly shortened versus starting over at a completely new organization. Being in HR, I also see the tremendous value of continuous participation in rich 401(k) and health insurance programs. When employees move between business units, we retain our vesting credit and can seamlessly continue contributing toward our retirement savings, as well as enjoy uninterrupted medical, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability coverage.
Was there anything you did that helped prepare you to take on a larger role with one of the operating companies?
Mine was a lateral move, but sometimes change, in and of itself, provides just the sort of challenge needed to get re-energized. And as an HR professional, I feel it is critical to not only find work that we are good at doing, but to “self-propel” in such a way we can be engaged and excited about our jobs as well.
It’s human nature to focus on the “loss” side of the equation when an employee leaves one company and goes to work for another. We now have a hole that needs to be filled and knowledge that needs to be replaced. But it is also a reality of being in business that people want to grow and learn and advance. And that is a very positive part of the equation—one that should be celebrated because we have those growth opportunities within our own borders.
As I see it, the literal hundreds of employees who have been hired at my companies during my tenure have not only joined their own parent company, e.g. NorthStar Energy, Saltchuk Marine, TOTE, Saltchuk Aviation, Tropical, and Saltchuk Logistics, but they’ve been hired at an enterprise of networked companies. I view applicants from sister companies as ‘internal applicants,’ and they are given special consideration. When one comes to work for a Saltchuk company, he or she comes to work for the family business, and that is a very special place of belonging!