Locator UpFront's 2015 Boss of the Year
There’s nowhere to go but up for Omar Wahid. He is the president of Gray & White Used Parts Company, based in Carrollton, Ga., which just opened its fourth location in June 2015. In less than 20 years the company has quadrupled in size at a steady pace. His employees claim that success is because of how Omar runs the business.
“He’s an aggressive buyer,” said Mick Martin, a Gray & White Used Parts Company sales representative. “He’s taken a two-acre yard and turned it into a company that now has four locations. He’s driven, he wants to succeed.”
Omar’s desire to make the business the best includes valuing his employees’ input, and just treating them the way he would like to be treated, is why he is the Locator UpFront’s 2015 Boss of the Year.
“I’ll be honest, I was surprised,” said Omar when he learned he was Boss of the Year. “I had no idea my guys would nominate me.”
Trust In The Team
Omar’s management style definitely does not include micro-managing. He trains his employees well and has confidence in their own abilities.
“I guide, I advise and ultimately I let the managers make their own decisions,” he explained. “I trust people. People are smart. If they make a mistake, I know they’ll fix it on their own so it won’t happen again.”
“He’s very studious, he’s fair and well-schooled. He goes to multiple conventions and is always sharing information with us. He makes sure we’re at the top of our gamed,” added Martin.
This type of hands-off style not only fits Omar’s personality, but also the sheer time constraints on his typical workday. Omar oversees more than 60 employees at four locations, two in Atlanta, Ga., the flagship location in Carrollton, Ga., and a fourth in Decatur, Ga.
Because he can’t be at four places at one, Omar’s strength lies in what he called knowledge transfer.
“I can’t go into the warehouse every day and work, so instead I teach the employees their job roles, like what to do if parts go missing.”
Much of that knowledge transfer goes to his effective team of managers that he coordinates with each day through Pinnace or on the phone.
“Everyone has a key role to play, but they know they can reach out to me if they need help,” he added.
“He sets you up in a position to succeed,” Martin acknowledged. “He is there if you need him. He always asks for our input and I appreciate that.”
Omar’s philosophy is also that everyone will work better together, if they truly want to be there. His employees claim that he treats them like family, but Omar said he just treats them the way he’d want to be treated.
“I work with my employees 40 to 50 hours per week. I want them to like me and I want to like them,” he said. “We’re a team. We work together. We are all dedicated to providing quality parts and customer service to our customers.”
Omar’s dad, Abdul Wahid, started the company in 1997. He had a background in vehicle repair. Abdul owned a service station in Houston, Texas in the late-1970s to early 1980s. He later came to Atlanta where he opened a line of gas stations. Omar said Abdul decided to sell those and get into the auto recycling industry. So in 1997 he bought Bankhead Auto Parts in Atlanta, a small, 2.5 acre full-service yard. Omar started working there part-time while he was in college, where he obtained a degree in computer science.
“My dad was concerned because I was only going to college two days a week. He thought it was a good idea if I spent the rest of the week at the yard,” Omar laughed. Turns out, Omar loved the business. “I saw a lot of opportunity,” he added. “With modernization, I knew the company could grow.”
Omar came on board full-time in 2002, the same year the Decatur facility was purchased. Formally Budget Auto Salvage, this full-service location has seven acres and processes about 900 vehicles a year. Gray & White Used Parts Company, the Carrollton location, was bought in 2007. It is the largest location with 32 acres, also full-service, and processes 1,500 a year. Shortly after it was acquired, Omar said the company name changed to Gray & White Used Parts Company for all three locations. 2007 was also the same year Omar started to run the business on his own.
With his background in computer science, Omar first stepped up the technology at the company. The business installed the Hollander Yard Management System (HYMS) in 2002 which allowed them to inventory and control all of the cars and parts. Omar said they later upgraded to Pinnacle, which is still used today. The business also uses bar code scanners to track inventory and WIFI is available throughout the buildings and yard so employees can use tablets wherever they are. Drivers are equipped with EZ Route software and mobile card readers. This technology isn’t the only way the company has stayed successful though.
“First and foremost it’s always the employees that can bring a company up,” stated Omar. “The software and technology just keeps everyone accountable.”
Gray & White Used Parts Company is a member of URG and ARA and the Carrollton location is a CAR member. The most recent location, also in Atlanta, is a self-service location with 21 acres. Omar said this location gives them the opportunity to buy older cars - many of which he passes on for the full-service locations which only buys vehicles about 10 years and newer - and process them in an affordable manner.
Keen business sense, like offering quality parts, is only part of what’s kept Gray & White Used Parts Company ahead of its competition. Omar acknowledged they are steps ahead when it comes to customer service.
“You’d be surprised at how many of our competitors don’t even call a customer back,” he explained. “Customer service is at the forefront of our business, along with offering great part conditions. We always take the time to call our customers back and just take care of them.”
Omar Wahid (center) and his staff at Gray & White Used Parts Company in Carrollton, Ga.