Most Influential Under 25

Jake Weller, Weller Auto Parts, Inc., Michigan


A fourth-generation auto recycler, Jake Weller has always been surrounded by mentors, like his father Skip Weller, most influential teacher of 2005. He combines the knowledge he has picked up from them with his own ideals to bolster the family business, Weller Auto Parts, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"He's learned to listen first and speak later," said Terry Westedt, general manager of Weller Auto Parts ( "He's able to retain information, he's interested in working out procedures and he has done a lot to streamline this operation."

Jake is in charge of the eBay department, quality control and also helps with the inventory and dispatching. He has been a full-time employee for two years, but has spent time on-site, learning the company business, most of his life.

Weller Auto Parts was founded by Jake's great-grandfather Harry Weller. In 1928, Harry bought property in Muskegon, Mich. for storage of damaged vehicles. The business continued to expand and now the Weller family - most influential real estate owners of 2007 - owns five auto parts facilities, three repairables locations, 12 truck operations and four truck parts distribution centers.

Amber Elenbaas, Pete's Auto & Truck Parts, Inc., ( in Jenison, Mich., noted Jake's willingness to participate in the auto recycling industry's educational programs.

"After attending auto recycling conventions, such as the URG conference and the Automotive Recyclers of Michigan (ARM) Road Show, Jake puts what he learns to good use," she said. "[He] utilizes the latest industry technology, to run the Weller Auto Parts eBay sales division."

Westedt said Jake's customer service skills have also been an important part of Weller Auto Parts' growth. "He's a go-getter. Customers love him; he's very intuitive about [their] needs."

Despite being only 21 years old, Jake has already contributed much to the auto recycling industry. Westedt noted his future looks promising.

"Being young doesn't mean you're not influential," he said. "[Auto recycling] is in his blood; he sleeps and breathes this. I'm very proud. He's the future leader of this organization."

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