The Ford file Featured

12:59pm EDT April 29, 2004
Education: MBA with an emphasis in accounting, DePaul University; Bachelor of arts degree in business, Western Illinois University

First job: Internal auditor, Beatrice Foods Co.

Career moves: Beatrice Foods Co. (audit manager) to McMaster-Carr Supply Co. (various management positions) to Gander Mountain Inc. (various management positions, including controller) to J.C. Whitney & Co. (CFO, currently president and CEO). Also, executive vice president and general manager of Automotive Specialty Accessories and Parts Inc. (holding company for J.C. Whitney and Stylin Concepts Inc.)

Boards: ASAP Inc., J.C. Whitney & Co., The GILD (a charity board associated with the University of Illinois-Chicago)

Resides: Naperville

What is the greatest business lesson you've learned?

It's all about the people. Getting the right people into the right positions. That's the key.

What is the greatest business challenge you've faced, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I've encountered was in the transition in selling from a private company to a leveraged buyout firm -- how to manage through all the different people's expectations -- the sellers, the buyers and the employees. And making sure everybody stayed on course with what we were trying to accomplish, which was growth of the J.C. Whitney business.

It's all in the communication. It's what and how you communicate to the people involved in the process -- buyers, sellers and employees -- a lot more face-to-face. It's a lot of discussion with people, explain to them what we're doing, what's the ultimate objective and how we're going to get there -- a lot more team meetings.

Whom do you admire most in business and why?

Andy Grove from Intel. He's got the right kind of perspective. He's not paranoid, but he's constantly considering who's trying to steal his business and what he's going to do to stay ahead of them.