CMLAA Alumni of the Year recipient Matthew Crawford possesses critical skills for successful leadership. He is a consensus builder who encourages opinions from a variety of perspectives in decision-making. When it came to choosing a school for furthering his education, the 1994 Cleveland-Marshall College of Law graduate avoided the narrow-minded idea that attending law school was only for lawyers – and has used his education to help grow one of the area’s largest supply chain and manufacturing companies.
“Candidly, I was not convinced I would pursue law as a career even as I began law school,” explained Crawford. “I had grown up knowing and respecting business leaders who had received a legal education and knew it was a good foundation for many professions.”
Crawford believes Cleveland-Marshall provided him with the strong educational foundation needed to succeed in a corporate career. A particularly valuable experience for him was a semester in the Employment Law Clinic with Professor Gordon Beggs. Crawford credits his work in the clinic for providing wonderful insight into real world employer-employee relationships and instilling a sense of the importance of trust and respect in the workplace.
Crawford was encouraged to go to law school by his father, Edward, a self-professed “serial entrepreneur.” While the two Crawfords have far different educational backgrounds, each has forged a similar career path in corporate leadership. Matt joined Park-Ohio Holdings Corp, a Cleveland, Ohio based industrial company providing integrated supply chain management services and highly-engineered manufactured products, in 1995 as assistant secretary and corporate counsel, three years after his father acquired a substantial stake of Park-Ohio and was appointed chairman. Matt has since been promoted to director, senior vice president and has served as director and president of the company since 2003. Along with his duties at ParkOhio, he has also served as president of the Crawford Group, a venture capital management company for a group of manufacturing companies, since 1995.
“Without question my dad was my inspiration to join the corporate environment,” explained Crawford.
Crawford has also developed significant roots in the community, as his philanthropic efforts include serving on the Boards of the Musical Arts Association (The Cleveland Orchestra) as well as its Executive and Audit Committees, University School, Hillcrest Hospital, Cuyahoga County Bluecoats, and The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
What does being named CMLAA Alumni of the Year mean to you?
I believe that our Law School provides an invaluable service to our community. For generations, Cleveland-Marshall has been teaching and grooming future leaders who contribute to the Cleveland legal and professional community. There are so many worthy alumni to whom this award would be well deserved. I am humbled and honored to be recognized.