Chaplin grew up on Cleveland's west side and after completing high school, he moved to Conneaut, Ohio—located near Ashtabula—in 1990.
“At the age of 19, I was just looking to find my way and support myself and my wife-to-be,” he recalled. The couple wanted to get married, but his future father-in-law explained firmly he needed steady, full-time employment before that could happen.
“As fate would have it, my father-in-law knew John Rettger, the plant manager of Ashtabula-based Grand River,” Chaplin said. “He (Rettger) ended up also knowing my parents some 20 years prior to that. He thought I was worth a chance and hired me.”
Chaplin was brought on board to work in the company's cure room in May and was married in December 1992. Today, the couple has three children: Cooper, Shania and Isabella.
He said he went about his job assignments as he did everything, including sports throughout his youth: totally focused on doing his best no matter which department he was assigned to or what position he held.
After two years, that strong work ethic led to a promotion to the firm's finishing department. He eventually ascended to the shipping department, where he demonstrated his true potential. “There were several opportunities for improvement and growth in the position,” he said.
Selip began to notice the intelligent, hard-working employee. Chaplin eventually became the head shipper, Selip said.
“In that position he interacted more with office personnel and sales,” Selip said. “That is a position that allowed for some creativity and professional growth. It was also a place where a person can be noticed by being on top of what is going on and meeting customer needs.”
Chaplin and Selip started to develop a strong work relationship when Chaplin moved from shipping into manufacturing as a supervisor. That's when it became apparent “he was a bright, driven young man who was meant to do much more with his life,” according to Selip.