Chad Leavitt, 36
Chief accounting officer, Findlay Automotive Group
As early as grade school, Chad Leavitt knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life: sell cars. When he graduated from high school, a friend’s dad who worked at a local Dodge dealership invited him to stop by and learn the business.
“I showed up, and he said, ‘Oh, you actually came,’” Leavitt said. “I said, ‘Yeah, now you owe me a job.’”
That was the springboard for a career path that has brought the sixth-generation Nevadan to his current position as chief accounting officer at Findlay Automotive Group in Henderson, Nev., which operates 32 dealerships across six Western states. Along the way, he has had a variety of roles, but his overarching philosophy has remained consistent — shake up the status quo at a dealership group accustomed to a decentralized structure.
In February 2017, he initiated a cohesive wholesale liquidation strategy for the group. He consolidated what had been 32 individual auctions each week into one group auction that moves approximately 200 vehicles every week.
Earlier, he led a consolidation of human resources functions that had been separate across the group. Now, there is a single HR group and employee portal. The streamlined approach has been particularly helpful amid the COVID-19 health crisis, as Findlay administered to employees affected by various state orders. As a point of pride, the dealership group paid 75 percent of salaries to its more than 2,200 employees while their dealerships were closed.
Leavitt says his background that blends car-guy with bean counter allows him to be successful.
“I’m really a hybrid of those two things, and that’s been the biggest thing,” he said. “I’ll never forget this: When I went into my interview, the CFO said, ‘I need somebody who can be the interpreter between the two and get things done.’ I took that as my green light.”
In his spare time, Leavitt, who is married with four children ages 4 to 11, serves on the board of Spread the Word Nevada, a nonprofit that seeks to advance childhood literacy.
“When I heard about their mission and what they do for children in our community, I wanted to be involved,” he said “We’re doing book drives and serve about 60,000 children per month, providing books and programs. It’s making a huge impact.”
— Pete Bigelow