Lindsey Weidner, 39
Director of dealership accounting, # 1 Cochran Automotive
After getting a degree in accounting and working in public accounting for nine years, Lindsey Weidner wanted one thing: to leave public accounting.
The opportunity came with #1 Cochran Automotive's opening for a controller, a role Weidner has shaped over nine years at the company.
She began as one of two controllers for the group's 12 dealerships. The group has since acquired several more dealerships, and as the accounting department's responsibilities grew, it underwent a restructuring, splitting into centralized and regional functions.
"We were growing so much, and we needed a scalable accounting model that would be consistent across all of the dealerships," Weidner said. "So that's what we've done over the past couple years."
She developed a plan to shape the regional accounting team — which now consists of seven controllers, 34 staff members and a warranty administration department of seven — to oversee accounting for all 24 dealerships.
In 2020, Weidner and her team implemented a new process of cash accounting for both sales and service departments to reduce the risks associated with cash and its susceptibility to fraud.
The dealership also focused on reducing expenses.
"We don't want to have high expenses just because we could when things were going well," she said.
"It was like a preparation for being able to do more with less, to prepare for downturns in the economy."
The efforts paid off when the pandemic interrupted business last year.
Early in the pandemic, Cochran's accounting team helped collect $4 million in around two weeks and focused on improving cash management and expense reduction.
The economic crisis forced the group to lay off several staff members, but it was able to bring everyone back. One of Cochran's core values for creating a winning team is to build from within through internal training and motivation.
"We're really big on that," she said. "Finding people with the motivation and the potential to do more was a huge focus. I think we have strong loyalty because of that."
— Wendy Guzman