While at an event at the Union League in Philadelphia almost nine years ago, an encounter with a complete stranger talking about career and work experience prompted a suggestion to volunteer with SCORE. At the time, not familiar with the organization but curious, Steve Crumrine did his due diligence, questioned some colleagues, and completed his research, before connecting with SCORE Chester County. As his tenure suggests, it was a good match though Steve never saw that stranger again to thank him!
First and foremost, Steve’s role at SCORE is as a mentor. Considered a generalist, with some corporate accounting experience, he has co-mentored with Rüder Schill and John Hess during regularly scheduled office hours for the last 8 years. He believes clients truly benefit from the shared knowledge and experiences brought by each mentor at the table. He sees his role as a resource to clients to make sure they are making good use of their time if they pursue a business opportunity. Sometimes helping individuals realize that their idea does not make good business sense is equally important. But overall, he believes you can predict the success of a client based on their thinking, planning, and motivation.
Steve’s record speaks for itself. He is a sought-out mentor (in the top 5 of mentor sessions logged), has been recognized in previous years for high scores in the Client Engagement Survey, has mentored clients that have been recipients of chapter awards, and is considered a resource to other mentors for advice and input. Even when fulfilling other chapter roles, Steve’s commitment to client mentoring has remained unchanged.
As if mentoring was not enough, Steve has also served as a workshop presenter. Pre-pandemic, when live sessions of the business start-up workshop, Simple Steps, was being offered, Steve presented the multi-part program to attendees. When new speakers were added he remained to introduce the financial planning segment. Additionally, he assumed the role as chapter chair and successfully navigated the merger of SCORE Chester County with the Delaware County chapter, which was struggling to operate effectively at the time. This proved to be a positive realignment within SCORE and was a tremendous benefit to the small business clients being served.
On a couple of occasions Steve has been recruited to assess a new technology or reimagine a program, like the time SCORE National tapped Steve to evaluate the possibility of virtual mentoring, long before COVID-19 forced the move to online mentoring. He participated in a pilot program with 12 other mentors nationwide to bring virtual mentoring mainstream. It was determined to be an important strategy to bridge the distance gap that limited SCORE’s reach. On a local level, Steve had used online mentoring with clients who had childcare responsibilities that limited their ability to travel to local offices even prior to the pandemic.
While chapter chair, Rüder Shill also took advantage of Steve’s prior management experience, when he asked him to serve as Committee Lead for Volunteer Engagement and formalize the onboarding process. With the help of chapter members, Steve was able to establish orientation meetings, onboarding coaches, and welcome dozens of new volunteers into the team, Together, they developed realistic expectations and opportunities for engagement in chapter projects and events (including happy hours and golf outings).
Most recently, Steve is working with a team of three experienced SCORE mentors who will coordinate efforts to develop, train, and organize the chapter's corps of mentors. The goal is to help leverage their varied areas of expertise, including learning from each other, to keep them abreast of appropriate developments that may be important to clients, and to coordinate the delivery of mentoring services.
Steve will tell you that the satisfaction of helping clients is what keeps him coming back. But what he never anticipated, but perceives as equally beneficial, is his network of SCORE colleagues who fulfill a need for social connection since leaving the daily workforce. Although limited by the pandemic protocols, Steve appreciated the personal interactions with co-mentors during client sessions, and on occasion, met for coffee or lunch with others to catch up. And even though virtual mentoring is here to stay, Steve looks forward to returning to live meetings and getting social.
When not volunteering with SCORE, Steve and his wife love to travel by motorcycle. They have ventured from Canada to Florida by bike and believe it is a unique way to explore the country. Sometimes he even gets to incorporate another favorite pastime, photography, into his motorcycle treks. A hobby since elementary school, Steve has developed his picture-taking skills over the years through college mentors, and now is an active member of a local photography club. His preference is to capture nature scenes and landscapes, but through club competitions, has ventured out of his comfort zone and expanded his portfolio. Some photos have even won top prize!
A story from his time as a mentor that Steve frequently shares is that of an acceptance speech of one of his SCORE Award-winning clients. During her brief acknowledgment, the client mentioned that her most memorable moment as a small business owner was the day she got to sign her first associate’s paycheck. The reason signing the paycheck was so memorable to the client was because she realized her business was about more than just herself and that others, including her employees and their families, were now depending on her. In that moment, the significance of being a SCORE mentor became something more to Steve. It was at that point he understood that the advice he shares is not simply with the client at the table, but for the benefit of their teams, families, and community. Accepting that responsibility keeps Steve grounded. That is why Steve Crumrine has been selected for this quarter’s Volunteer Spotlight!