Weaver CEO Shares Secrets Of Success
PHOTO: STEPHʼS PHOTOGRAPHY
How do you gain a reputation as one of the smartest guys in the industry? Don’t be afraid to look dumb. “Don’t let your ego get in the way of getting advice, either from industry consultants or peers,” explained Kent Rothwell, president and CEO of Weaver Automotive, headquartered in Carnesville, Ga. “Don’t be scared to have people tell you how dumb you are. We are all human, and from time to time we all do dumb stuff. The key is having relationships with folks that will point those times out for you.”
It’s hard to imagine Rothwell having many “dumb” ideas. Under his leadership, Weaver Automotive has grown into the largest independent recycler in the Southeastern United States, with seven locations throughout Georgia and North Carolina. In 2011, the company’s sales topped $16 million. Surprisingly, Rothwell did not set out to have a career in the auto recycling industry. After majoring in finance at Georgia State University in 1992, he worked for the business data provider Dun and Bradstreet, analyzing small- to mid-sized companies. “This gave me a general overview of how businesses run,” he said.
In 1997, Rothwell’s father-in-law, Roger Weaver, approached Rothwell about joining Weaver Automotive (www.weaverparts.com). Weaver had founded the company five years earlier and wanted Rothwell to grow the parts side of the business. Rothwell worked as vice president of sales and then purchased the company from Weaver in 2006 with partners Bruce Byrne, vice president of purchasing, Ed Carman, vice president of operations, and Louie Wilson, vice president of sales. Byrne says Rothwell is a visionary leader with high expectations for his team.
“He is proud to be a recycler and is passionate about the opportunities for the industry and his company,” Byrne said. “Kent values his people, and he maintains relentless focus on teamwork, accountability, results and constant change.” Like Rothwell, the other partners had careers outside the industry before joining the Weaver team.
“I have built a management team with folks that were previously untested in the recycling world,” Rothwell said. “I have never had good luck with ‘inside-the-industry’ folks. Our business is changing so fast that I didn’t want leaders in the company that thought they already had all of the answers.” Once Rothwell joined the industry, he became highly involved. He was chairman of Team PRP for eight years and has been speaking at industry events for about 10 years. “I enjoy teaching others what I have learned in business,” he explained. “I like receiving it as much as I like dishing it out, so this is one of the ways I can dish it out.”
He has also built a close relationship with the collision industry. He has served on the CIC Body Shop and Insurance Company Advisory Committee and meets regularly with a CIC representative. Weaver Automotive also hosts monthly I-CAR meetings at its Atlanta location.
“I think it is important to work closely with our customers to understand each other’s challenges,” Rothwell said. “The more we understand each other, the better our working relationship will be and also allow for profitable transactions for both parties.”