BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Stanley Craig has been a homebuilder most of his working life. It’s what he likes – watching a new home take shape from foundation, to framing, to roofing, and his wife, Laurie, assists with house plans and color options. Together they have made an excellent combination in transforming Mena with attractive homes and subdivisions.
Stanley Craig was born and raised on a cattle farm in Board Camp, just outside Mena. He graduated from Mena High School in 1981, and nine days later he joined The Marines. He said with a wry smile, that he had spent way too much time on a farm – he wanted to blow something up. Craig did his boot camp in San Diego and infantry training at Camp Pendleton. From there he went to Camp LeJune in North Carolina, where he was trained some more and sent into the invasion of Grenada. Finally, after serving as a guard for the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, he left the Marines in 1984.
“I decided to attend votech school at what is now Rich Mountain Community College,” he explained. “I decided to be a builder, and my instructor, Dick Wennberg, said, ‘you want to go somewhere where business is booming,’ so after school I headed for Dallas. I had a job ten minutes after I arrived – the first jobsite I stopped at – and I was there in Dallas for three years. In that time I worked for a number of big builders. After three years I had learned the trade well, so I returned to Mena to work for Bob Philpot. At that point I also got married to a great girl I knew in high school, Laurie Lovell, and we’ve been together ever since. She has become a part of our business as well, overseeing house plans with me and providing color schemes.”
In 1994 the couple struck out on their own, and began building spec houses, particularly in the Bethesda Heights subdivision of Mena.
“I brought with me a lot of things I had learned in Dallas – a different style that wasn’t being done here in many aspects, at the time,” Craig said. “We would oftentimes build a house and live in it while we built another, then sell that one. We did that more times than I care to remember, but in the process we became better and better at what we did. I like building houses, watching the progress, and at the end of the day, when you leave the site you can virtually see what you’ve accomplished. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in what I do. I’ve built first houses for young couples, and I have buyers for whom I’ve built more than one home, and I’ve developed a rapport with these people.”
During the first few years Laurie was a stay-at-home mom. They have two daughters – Ashton and Alexa.
“Nonetheless I was always a part of the business, as well as being a mom and a housewife,” Laurie said. “Later I applied for my teaching degree and went to work for our school system teaching primarily sixth-grade math.”
The Craig’s latest endeavor will definitely add to the ambience of Mena.
“My brother, Dale, and I have just gone in together and purchased 30 acres off South Mena Street for a brand new subdivision,” Craig explained. “I feel I have built a reputation that speaks for itself, and I like developing land and building subdivisions. I like the idea of taking a raw piece of land and turning it into something special. We take pride in having been part of the repairs and reconstruction of Mena after the 2009 tornado, and improving the ambience of the areas hit so badly, particularly in the Hickory Street area.”
Laurie added, “I’ve lived here since I was three years old, and Stanley has lived here all of his life. We love the natural surroundings, the small town atmosphere, and the good people. This is home, and we hope to continue to improve Mena for years to come.