Story & Photo by LISA ANDERSON
She had continually identified with her career, but that all changed with the birth of her son at age 32. Married at 19 years old, Krystal Dale and her husband Roger weren’t in a rush to have children. Krystal focused on her career, content with her dogs. After obtaining a master’s degree in business, she applied to work for a local Ocala-based company, Combined Insurance Services, founded by Bob Taylor.
“He had an administrative assistant position. That’s the position I applied for, and I remember, to this day, sitting there with him. He called his son in, and [Bob] asked me, ‘Where do you see yourself if I were to hire you, today?’ I looked him dead in the face and said, ‘I want his job.’ [I pointed] directly to his son. It was the first time I felt empowered. I knew this was what I wanted to do, and this is where I was going to go, and I was going to help Bob build his dream,” she states emphatically.
I knew I wanted to run a company. That was always my dream. I wanted to be in the C-suite.— Krystal Dale
Empowered to Reach Her Full Potential
Krystal’s mom became a single parent when Krystal was in sixth grade. She watched her mom work two jobs to not only pay the bills, but provide opportunities for her children to participate in costly extra-curricular activities, such as cheerleading. “Anything she put her mind to, she did. You could say she started it all,” Krystal clarifies, referring to her own persistence. “And Bob just kind of carried it on. If it wasn’t for him being a mentor, I probably would not have gone as far in my life.”
Krystal laughs, as she recalls her interview. “You have to think about this. I’m in an interview with two larger males that are rather intimidating. Here I am, young me. I want this position, but I’m not hired, yet, and I’m telling Bob I want his son’s job. It’s all because of the story he told me about Combined.”
There were many happy moments of inspiration and empowerment for Krystal during her 16-year tenure at Combined Insurance Services, but a shift in her mindset began to occur, when she became a mom. It set her on a new path.
“We weren’t sure we were going to have kids. We had dogs, and the dogs were our babies,” explains Krystal about her and Roger’s decision to wait over a decade to have children.
“It was a huge change for me because I had been so career-focused. Then, you have this new baby that needs…EVERYTHING! Trying to find that [work-life] balance—I can honestly say, that was very difficult for me, early on. I think it’s difficult, because you kind of get the mom guilt. Then, you also have the professional guilt.”
While she felt fortunate to have an understanding employer, who worked with her to find the balance she needed as a new mom, Krystal was still worried she would let the company down or her career would tank. It took her over five years to she realize she needed to find a better solution. As a mom, “you get this shift in your priorities. Yes, my career has always been my priority, but I’m willing to step back, because I need to put my kids first right now.”
Krystal admits she mourned the loss of being career-focused but rejoiced in her new role as mom. Now, a mother of two, she moved on to a new position at Crippen & Co., so she can have more time with her family. She wears many hats in her position as Business Operations Coordinator, and she doesn’t mind it all. “It works well for me because of the operations part of it. It’s been fun! I always loved process management, getting people to hold hands, and making this work. Just fitting those puzzle pieces together was always my jam.”
In addition to finding the work-life balance she craved, Krystal has also enjoyed the opportunities Crippen provides to help and improve the community. In fact, the community programs are a big reason she plans to stay and grow with the company.
Her children, now four and seven years old, are her main priorities, but Krystal likes having the opportunity to grow her career as she has always done, while being there for her kids. It’s a solution of harmony. From a shy young woman to an empowered business leader, Krystal is an inspiration to herself, her community, and her children.