Behind the Bench: A Conversation with One of the Industry’s Leading Problem Solvers

Behind the Bench: A Conversation with One of the Industry’s Leading Problem Solvers

Welcome to our series – Behind the Bench – where we profile people in the laboratory testing industry that you probably don’t know — but should. Get ready to meet chemists, molecular biologists, lab techs and generally fascinating people from across the industry as we go behind the bench to get to know the laboratory from the inside out.

Trevor Craig – Microbac’s Food Technical Director

As the Food line of business Technical Director for the nation’s largest family-owned laboratory network, Trevor Craig has a lot on his plate. While Trevor’s role is complex, we can define it simply – he’s a problem solver. He is in charge of getting down to the root of the issue when it comes to analytical testing challenges and unlike many, Trevor has known that he’d make a career of this from a young age.

All, meet Trevor Craig.

Trevor Craig - corporate technical director of nations largest family-owned laboratory network

The Early Life of a Microbiology Scientist

Microbac: What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Trevor Craig: Paleontologist. I remember watching Jurassic Park and wanting to be Dr. Grant. I was interested in the anatomy of things, how things worked, especially in regard to nature. We had seven acres in St. Louis so I would run all over the place looking for different plants to disect.

M: Were you interested from a creative side or a scientific stand point?

T: Scientific. I just found myself wondering why plants bloom in the spring and what makes some come up every year and some die for a year, and wanting to solve the mystery.

M: So how did that initial interest translate to where you are now?

T: I thought I wanted to be a teacher, a science teacher. I ultimately realized I didn’t want to deal with that many kids, so I went to college as a pre-med student and then decided pretty early on that I was more interested in what exactly makes people sick than anything. That’s where this whole spiral of macro versus micro started. And probably by my freshman year in college I knew what I wanted to do.

M: How has that manifested into your current position?

T: What I do now is more along the lines of discovering why laboratories are having certain results. Why is this particular customer having problems and how do we solve them? I’m interested in fixing the problems and getting down to the root of the issue.

M: Did you have a teacher throughout your educational process that really impacted you?

TC: Yes, but ironically not a science teacher. At least not until college. I had a really close relationship with my math teacher in high school, Mrs. Carty, but I actually failed her class freshman year. I was struggling in algebra and she never said “you’re just not good at this.” Instead she said well, “why aren’t you good at this? Let’s figure it out.” I liked that about her.

READ: Food Labels Have Never Been More Trustworthy

Trevor Craig on Passions & Future Dreaming

M: So what are some other loves that you have? What are your passions?

TC: I love music and I have a music degree. Music is very segmented. Each note means something and then it repeats. So it’s a pattern. And I love patterns. While I’m very bad at jazz, I’m good at classical music because of the rules and patterns.

M: Let’s talk about your dream job. What would that look like?

TC: I would do private consulting for labs. I would love to be someone that you can hire to come into your lab and consult with you on how to run more efficiently or meet certain requirements without cutting corners. I like doing gap analysis and saying, ok, here are your problems or here’s what you’re currently doing. And here’s how we can make it better, faster, more efficient. I like solving problems and raising the bar.

M: Who’s someone in the industry that you look up to?

TC: My last boss, she was doing what I’m doing now, but she traveled a lot and she was just awesome. She was very, very even tempered and had the ability to handle any situation with a level head.

M: What’s your least favorite part of your job? And your favorite?

TC: I think my least favorite part of the job is hearing “oh, we’ve always done it this way and we don’t want to change.” Getting people to change their mind is never easy, especially when you’re telling them that what they’ve been doing isn’t correct. My favorite part of the job is working with clients and solving their problems. I really love that.

M: What is something you feel is misunderstood about what you do?

TC: I worry that people think my intention is to just show up and tell them what they’re doing wrong. A lot of the time, that’s exactly what I’m there for… but I would love for people to understand that I’m there to help them improve. Not just deliver the bad news.

M: Let’s talk about the future. Where do you think the industry is headed? What are your trend predictions?

TC: I think that people are going to see a bigger crackdown on small food industry. Occasionally I find food companies who have been in this business for 50 years and they’ve never tested a product. It happens a lot. I think that we are going to see regulatory bodies come down and say that if you are making food, you have to do the following testing.

Trevor Craig Off The Clock

M: What is your favorite date-night restuarant?  

TC: Vietnamese. You can have one dish 16 different ways… sweet, spicy, savory… whatever you want. It’s so versatile.

M: If you had to choose a last meal, what are you having?

TC: There was a restaurant right down the street from my family home in St. Louis. It was in the big Italian district – Antonio’s. It had the best salads in the world. So as odd as it sounds, I would have that salad.

M: A dream vacation? If it was all expense paid, where would you go?

TC: Paris. I’ve been to Paris multiple times and I love it.

M: What’s your go to cocktail?

TC: Any type of Moscow mule.

M: One person you’d kill to see in concert? Dead or alive.

TC: Prince. 

M: What is the one thing that people don’t know about you that would surprise them?

TC: Nearly everyone in my family is in law enforcement. My Dad’s a cop, my aunt’s a cop, my dad’s brother is a cop… everyone. Growing up my dad was very, very insistent that we knew how to shoot a gun so he took us to shooting ranges all the time. Because of that, I’m a really good shot.

Trevor, from Microbac Labs, describes his early life with his family.

This document is not intended to provide scientific or other advice to be used in a specific fact situation and is intended for general information purposes only.  While we encourage you to share this document with others, this document or any portion of it may not be quoted, used in or referred to in another publication without our express permission.

All photography by Cara Chancellor

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