Justin Kendrick, 31
Wholesale parts director, #1 Cochran Automotive
Justin Kendrick runs his sprawling parts operation in much the same way as the general manager of a baseball team. His new hires are his farm system of potential superstars.
"If you have a driver who really excels at it, you can move them throughout the ranks, moving them up to working in the warehouse and then moving into the dealership," he says. His goal is to teach his crew all the aspects of the parts business and then have them come back to his wholesale operation in a management role.
#1 Cochran Automotive Group, serving the Pittsburgh area, operates 29 dealerships, encompassing 18 brands, and eight body shops in western Pennsylvania. It sells parts to more than 400 independent repair shops. So, yeah, it's a busy place.
"In order to make the dealership profitable, your parts inventory has to be clean, correct and managed very well," says Kendrick, who usually logs between 60 and 70 hours per week doing a job he loves.
Kendrick did not grow up in a family obsessed with automobiles, and he wasn't a frequent visitor at dealerships' parts departments in his teenage years. His degree is in African and Chinese history, and he comes from a family of teachers. About eight months into his first job out of school as a parts adviser, Kendrick got his big break.
"The parts manager got into a car wreck and could not work for six months," he said. "It was at that time where you either sink or swim. I really had good people around me who helped me learn the business quickly. I was fascinated by it; there are so many different aspects of it. I learned the service, sales, technician and parts side. When it all comes together, it's magical. If you have a very good environment and culture, everything just flows very naturally."
— Richard Truett