Employee Spotlight

DENSO Tenured Associate Spotlight: Karen Croly

When you know, you know. And when it comes to finding “the one,” you don’t let go. Just ask our many tenured employees. Through name changes, shifts in company direction and new, innovative technologies that advance mobility, our tenured employees have shown their DENSO Spirit every step of the way.

Karen Croly, who works within the purchasing department at DENSO’s Southfield facility, has been part of the DENSO family for more than four decades (wow!). She’s one of our longest-tenured employees to date. And while we could tell you all about Karen’s time at DENSO -- how she’s grown her career, how her colleagues have become family (literally) -- we thought who better to tell you about her experience than Karen herself. Here’s what she had to say:

“It was nearly 41 years ago (October 1979) when I went to Nippondenso (DENSO’s name back then!) for my first interview. I decided to go with DENSO because it was a smaller company and I wanted to grow with them and learn from other associates. DENSO was always a great place to be taught everything, from work product, processes and making friends for life.

My first duties were secretary to the vice president and then for several Japanese men who worked for other companies (ASMO, Tokai-Rika, and Toyota Automatic Loom Works) but were housed at DENSO so they, too, could develop customer relations in the U.S. under the guidance of our first president, Akira Kataoka. I can’t say enough good things about Kataoka-san. He knew how to communicate and engage with people in every level of the job as well as his success with our customers. He was always approachable and willing to share to help develop DENSO and its associates.
I remember that one person in the office each week had to make coffee for everyone in the morning. When the afternoon rolled around, it was Akira Kataoka, our president, who made iced coffee for everyone who wanted it. It was just one example of how he made us more of a family than a workplace.

From being a secretary to working with sales and engineering personnel through the years, I ended up in Purchasing, where we built our processes and plants in several locations around the country. By this time DENSO was a very large company, but the family atmosphere continued to thrive for many of us.

During my time at DENSO, I married my boyfriend, John, and we had two beautiful daughters, Jillian and Stephanie, and now I have a wonderful son-in-law, Nick. They have all been a big part of my work life and they, too, have developed friendships through my work. I even introduced a fellow co-worker to one of my nieces, and they have been married for many years and have two great boys.

Our newer associates should remember a couple things. It is beneficial to be taught things that you can use at another time in your life. Keep an open mind and always enjoy your work. Learn to listen, but also be heard. Always make time for your family and friends, and keep a balance of your personal life and work. If you develop friends at work, then work is easier to handle. Show your personality to others and communicate with co-workers, as they, too, can become your friends. Your ideas are what make a better work environment and give success to our company.

My work career will soon be coming to a close as retirement approaches. This year of the pandemic is difficult, as I miss seeing and engaging with people. We all became one big happy family at our local spots. I will greatly miss the work and so very many of the people I have worked with over the years.

Thank you.”