Jon Briggs, 36
CFO, Cavender Auto Family
Jon Briggs is a musician turned financial strategist.
During college, Briggs played bass in a rock band and was a tour manager and concert promoter — all while living out of an RV as he traveled the country.
He graduated in December 2007 from the University of Houston with a bachelor's degree in accounting, but Briggs didn't want to be an accountant. With the Great Recession looming, it was a tough time to find a job though, Briggs said. He ultimately found a position as an accountant at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car regional office.
But, Briggs said, "I am not your typical accountant."
He got into the discipline because his mom and her two sisters were accountants, he said. And, he figured, accountants would be in demand "for the rest of time" in good times or bad.
"What I ended up liking about it, and the niche I kind of put myself in, was problem solving," Briggs said. "There's an area of accounting that is less theoretical and more like, 'How are we going to do this? Let's kind of figure it out.' "
After a little more than a year with Enterprise, Briggs joined Group 1 Automotive as a financial analyst. It was a newly created position that left Briggs with extra time to take on more responsibilities. Those included helping with audits and buy-sell transactions. He was later promoted to Group 1's real estate division where he helped guide, from the accounting side, buying and selling real estate. He also worked with the construction team and corporate development.
"I kind of always just raised my hand," Briggs said. "Because there's a small corporate staff and I just kept saying 'yes,' I did all kinds of stuff and traveled all over the place."
When Group 1 acquired dealerships in Brazil, Briggs raised his hand again and moved there in 2013. Briggs returned to Texas in 2015 and was a liaison between Group 1's U.S. operations and its Brazil business, traveling between the two countries.
In 2016, after seven and a half years with Group 1, he got a call from a recruiter. Cavender Auto Family was looking for a new CFO.
When he joined, Cavender Auto Family had two dealerships and around 420 employees. Today, with Briggs playing a critical role in the retailer's growth, the San Antonio dealership group has six stores and 970 employees. It was recently awarded an open Subaru point and is set to acquire six luxury dealerships in Texas.
As CFO, Briggs is responsible for accounting, human resources, information technology, risk management and corporate development, among other duties.
While Briggs' passion for music did not turn into a career — he still plays in his in-home studio as a creative outlet — his passion for problem solving is useful in the career he landed. And that motivates him.
"It goes back, personally, to problem solving and always getting better and always figuring things out," Briggs said. "That pushes me internally because I want to learn and learn more. ... What pushes me and what I'm really proud of our company for is, we're not growing so that our owners, or whoever, have more money. That's not really our focus. We're growing because we have people that we want to make their lives better."
— Jack Walsworth