Whenever a plane lands, its tires first drag on the runway for a few seconds before starting to spin, eventually guiding it to a safe stop. The brief drag, albeit routine, embeds remnants of rubber into the pavement. Over time the rubber builds up, hardens and can cause hydroplaning, slippage and loss of control when landing.
It was here—where the rubber meets the runway—that James Crocker’s curiosity and ingenuity produced a multimillion-dollar idea. The results include safer runways. His company, Waterblasting Technologies, is now the third-largest manufacturing business in Martin County, with more than 140 local and overseas employees, and equipment operating in 52 countries.
Recently honored as Martin County Business Person of the Year by the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, the Stuart husband and father invests in more than building up his business. He also undertakes philanthropic endeavors and the production of creative messages to inspire.
You grew up without a TV, which you’ve said helped you create your business. How?
Yes. Four brothers and no TV. The absence of continual entertainment from television forced my mechanical interaction with anything broken around the house—toaster ovens, eight-track players, sewing machines, fans, automobiles, bikes, lawn mowers.
Tell us about your first pressure washer.
Anytime my friend Kenny Hobbs was done with anything, he sold it to me. Radar detector, stereo system, lawn mower, weed eater, motorcycle and eventually, my first pressure washer. It was a 3,000 psi, 4-gallons-a-minute and made by Simpson. It was a high-ticket item—$1,200—so he sold it to me on terms.
When did you learn your high-pressure water systems, which stripped paint off highways, would work on runways?
We were at Boca Chica Naval Air Station near Key West removing some lead-based paint, and I saw the thick black rubber on the runway. I just had a little go at it and saw how effective the same system was on rubber. I asked the engineer if they had to remove that, and he said, ‘Yes.’
You do a video series called “Hog Cast.” How did you get into producing it?
My best learning experiences occur when I reflect on what happened today and ponder the lessons I can learn from how things went. I began sharing those lessons through “Hog Casts”—two- to three-minute videos that share my experiences, perspectives and principles that drive successful leadership.
You’ve also authored children’s books?
I didn’t read my first leadership book until I was 32 years old. Imagine if I could have started when I was 3 years old. My thinking is to take leadership lessons and simplify them so that kids can learn leadership at a far younger age.
What’s the best book you’ve read on leadership?
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
John C. Maxwell actually endorsed one of your books and “Hog Cast,” right?
Yes. For the likes of Ben Carson, John Maxwell and Joyce Meyer to endorse my work, it’s just an incredible affirmation to continue doing what I feel so pulled to do.