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NAL’s Conrad to receive Lake Land College Alumnus Achievement Award
May 14, 2014
Effingham native Greg Conrad never anticipated he would one day be president and chief operating officer of the largest non-affiliated automobile lighting supplier in North America. In fact, he was with his company, North American Lighting, for nearly 30 years before that opportunity presented itself. But, according to Conrad, a combination of patience and loyalty is what is needed for getting into and excelling in the business world.
“I started here in 1980 as the inventory control manager and worked many years in many different capacities before I was offered the position of president and COO in 2008,” explained Conrad. “In a way, the company and I grew up side-by-side and I think my dedication and hard work has paid off.”
Conrad, now of Terre Haute, Ind., studied business in college. According to him, his family urged him to earn a degree because at that time, there were few readily available jobs in the area. As a member of the Lake Land College class of 1969, Conrad enrolled at the college shortly after it opened for operation. According to him, he began his undergraduate career at Eastern Illinois University, but decided to dually enroll at Lake Land because it was more affordable and closer to home for him.
“Lake Land looked a lot different when I was a student there,” said Conrad. “I took all of my classes in the armory in Mattoon and then transferred them to Eastern to complete my bachelor’s degree in business.”
Like many other students at Lake Land, Conrad held a part-time job, commuted to campus and was married. So taking classes at the college offered him the flexibility and convenience he needed during that time in his life.
While Conrad has been with North American Lighting, the company has changed quite a lot. Since its inception, it has expanded its market share in the automotive lighting industry, opened a new corporate office in 2005, and is currently working toward adding 400,000 square feet of space and more than 500 jobs between its Muscle Shoals, Ala. and Paris, Ill. plants.
“In a lot of ways having a multi-national corporation nestled here in the cornfields of central Illinois isn’t very typical,” said Conrad. “Paris is not that big, so we have to be a good corporate citizen and continue to be the preferred manufacturer for automobile companies.”
To that end, Conrad said that as president of the company, he is very involved with all levels of the corporation. He said he regularly goes to the plant to see employees and operations. He also frequently travels internationally to conduct business.
“I’m certainly a planner. I like to go and see and then make a decision. I like to be directly involved,” said Conrad. “Part of being involved is knowing the people you work with. I love bringing new people into our organization on every level, which is what the company needs in order to sustain the growth we’ve seen recently.”
Looking back on his years in business, Conrad said the best piece of advice he can give a student pursuing a degree in business is to work hard and learn as much as possible.
“Today, we need workers who have a diversified skillset. So going into a career, learn as many skills and tasks as possible,” said Conrad. “And, remember, it’s not about where you start, it’s all about where you go. You don’t have to have a degree from Harvard to do the work I do, but you do have to be willing to work hard and stay dedicated.”
Conrad will be presented the 2014 Alumnus Achievement Award at the 47th annual commencement ceremony, Friday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lake Land College Field House.
Cutline: Greg Conrad, Terre Haute, has been selected as the recipient of the 2014 Alumnus Achievement Award by Lake Land College. He will speak at the 47th annual commencement ceremony, Friday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lake Land College Field House.