President and chief operating officer | Meridian Rack & Pinion Inc., dba Buyautoparts.com | Age: 35
What was your first job in the industry?
Product analyst for an emerging e-commerce parts distributor.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was attracted by the diversity of companies within the industry, from manufacturing to high-tech with everything in between.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Growing our business from $1 million of revenue when I joined in 2005 to over $50 million during 2015, I have faced a myriad of challenges along the way. Probably at the top of the list is finding, teaching, motivating, and retaining talented people to help enable our growth.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I've been influenced by many different people across many different aspects of my career. My mom instilled me with a never quit work ethic and attitude. My uncle taught me that you don't always have to be the smartest person in the room and you don't always have to be the hardest working, but you have to embody a good balance of those two qualities to make it to the top. I've also been influenced by a number of industry veterans, the owner of one of our largest parts suppliers has taught me a lot about how to approach business in the automotive aftermarket. I've been lucky enough to have a core group of advisers to lean on during the difficult times and they've helped guide some of my decision making along the way.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
The two that come to mind are: creating one of the first aftermarket branded replacement turbocharger product lines that I'm aware of in the industry. To date, we have over 70 unique Turbo SKUs available under the Stigan brand. And, successfully recapitalizing our business with a private equity investment to position ourselves to grow rapidly and successfully for many years to come.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now I expect to be doing something similar to what I’m doing currently, with a different set of challenges. Whether those challenges stem from the industry, product categories, sales channels, or supply chain, I’m indifferent. I enjoy exactly what I do today and would like to continue it for a very long time to come, perhaps with a little more time off to relax with my family and play golf.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
That it would suck me in and probably not let me out. I never imagined spending 12 years in the automotive aftermarket, let alone my whole career as it’s shaping up to be.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
Simply by telling them about what my company does and how we’re continuing to try to grow. That is typically compelling enough to get others interested in the aftermarket.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my wife, Ashley, for five years and we were dating for eight years prior to that. We have a daughter named Everly and a dog named Clio.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Anything active. Going to the beach with my family or playing golf with friends.
What keeps you up at night?
Lately my daughter, but usually it’s the health and performance of my business. There are so many different things and metrics to worry about, and I often get caught up worrying about this one or that one and then thinking through strategies on how to improve them. Sometimes I force myself out of bed to write down what I’ve been thinking about that is keeping me awake, so I can go back to sleep.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Name a talent you wish you had.
It’s a tie between software developer and fluency in Mandarin.
What’s your favorite food?
Too many to list. Probably a really good hamburger, fries, and a beer. It’s got to be that combo though.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My guilty answer is Tom Brady. If you forced me to pick a non-guilty answer it would probably be Jeff Bezos.
If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?
A very long time. In fact, I might pay you $1,000 to take my phone and not give it back to me. That might be the catalyst I need to put my phone down and pay attention to the important things going on around me.