Craig Hagge has made a successful full circle in his young life. At age 38, both he and his wife, Christy, are happy and settled in Northeast Nebraska, specifically at Fordyce. Bloomfield is Hagge’s hometown. After high school, he graduated from Northeast Community College in Norfolk and continued on to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to receive a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Christy hails from Niobrara and graduated from Wayne State College with a degree in counseling and psychology.
Married and with the whole world ahead of them, the couple searched for their own life. They were free to be on their own and grow into a pair of mature adults. Both agree they needed that time to become more independent of family and home. It gave them a chance to be on their own and grow their own life together.
Hagge started with a job in 1991, working for Shell Oil Industry in its pipeline division. A move to Indianapolis was needed. Six months into the job, the couple were married, and Christy moved from Lincoln to join him. He remained there two years and then was transferred to St. Louis. They lived in Troy, Ill., from 1993 to 2000 while Hagge commuted to work. It was an hour one way on a good day. Some days he got to the office two hours late because of the traffic.
The next transfer took Hagge to Houston. By this time, the Hagges had started a family. They lived there for 2 years. But, by April 2002, Hagge decided he needed a career change.
“The turning point for me really was 9/11,” Hagge said. “That day we watched the situation on these big screens in the Shell offices. They had a company meeting and then we could all leave. When we went down to the tunnels under the city of Houston to get into our vehicles, there wasn’t a soul in sight. I still get goose bumps when I think of it.”
Traffic leaving the city that day was unbelievable and it took Hagge hours to get home. By night, the whole city had evacuated.
“I had to wonder where my priorities were,” Hagge remembered. “What was more important to me, my family or my job?”
It gave Hagge the extra incentive to conquer the fear of change and go ahead and try something new. The something new that came along was presented to him by his high school friend, Randy Eckmann, who is employed with the Great Plains Communications organization that is based in St. Edward.
A new business was opening in Creighton. Great Plains Communications had purchased an underground construction company, which was going out of business. It was in the process of creating a sister company, Great Plains Underground Construction, and needed a general manager.
Hagge landed the job in April, but it was September before his wife and two daughters, Brayton 9, and Keeley 6, found a home.
“I started looking for something in the country around Creighton,” Hagge said. “We were both raised on the farm and wanted something outside of town. I had to keep spreading out farther and farther until I found this house located north of Fordyce.”
The Hagges agreed it had been increasingly harder to leave their families after the holidays and go back to their homes in the big city. In the back of their minds, they wanted to live closer to their parents to help them if needed, but they also wondered what kind of a job Hagge could do in a rural area.
“I travel now all across the state of Nebraska, around 4,000 miles a month,” Hagge said.
The family has replaced the high-paying jobs and museum trips with other things, like riding horses and boating. It isn’t as easy to rent a movie or grab a few groceries, but the adjustment was worth it.
Hagge’s job has a more relaxing atmosphere. He is happy to be away from the fast-paced corporate world of business. He coached T-ball and softball this past summer and finds he is more involved with his daughters. Christy works with the Crofton Head Start Program.
“We had to step out of our comfort zone,” Hagge said. “But we were ready to take the step. Now that we have our own family, we were ready to make the change and make it work.”
- Story Courtesy of the Norfolk Daily News