In this episode of "Five Minutes With", we know Ted Wentz III, CEO of Quadratec, which is the largest independent Jeep aftermarket spare parts and accessories dealer in the world. Quadratec, a family-owned company that celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, was founded by Wentz's father. Click here to find out more
What was your first job in the sector? Was he in the family business?
Era! I was a boy and my father came to pick me up after school in the Jeep family and took me to the office. Pack boxes, sweep floors, mail catalogs or whatever was needed.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the after-sales market?
I was quite young when everything went on, so I don't know if I raised my hand to go to work or not, but I certainly liked it. I'm sure some days I wanted to go in and some days I didn't, but as far as the interest in the jeeps is concerned, I will never forget the day my father brought home our first jeep . The roof broke away from it, the doors broke away from it. What more could a boy want? [It was a] instant jeep infatuation that never died. I didn't think it would become a career, but here I am.
I thought of going into international relations. I went to the University of Virginia and then ended up in Washington, DC, working in Homeland Security after September 11th. I did it for a while. I thought it was the career path I would follow – I have a degree in Foreign Affairs – but after a while I decided it was a wonderful experience and I was ready for a different kind of challenge. I switched to the private sector and this brought me back to the after-sales market. I also did some time on the OEM side, with Toyota. But the after sales market is a lot of fun, and my family business has been a great company, and here I am.
Family businesses are demanding, unique, special and difficult at the same time.
What do you like most about your current position?
I really am a manager of people at this point in my career, with the dimensions we are. So I really enjoy watching our employees innovate, take risks and drive their success, which turns into success for us. I find it makes me feel part of something that's not just a couple of people; it is a collective success.
Wentz with his two boys and the Jeep family.
What do you do when you're not at work?
Much of my time is spent venturing with my wife and two small children; they are getting bigger every day. They make me run to pieces, but if I have time for myself, you will find me racing cars or boats or practically anything that can be raced. I don't do it much at this point in my life, but I definitely enjoy it.
Which word best sums up your personality?
I would say relentless.
What kind of car do you drive?
My favorite car to drive is … we still have the 1989 Jeep Wrangler that my father bought all those years ago that really launched the company. I love to drive it. I also have a 2003 BMW M5, which is fun to enter quickly and has four doors. And I still have my Ford SCCA race car, but nowadays it is rarely used.
What are you reading?
Right now, I'm reading a book called "Wait, what? And the other essential questions in life". The book was written by the current president of the University of Virginia. It's a small book and it's about asking questions as a way to get smarter, make good decisions, and move the game forward. It was based on his speech. Charming little book and I'm having fun.
If you could travel in time, to where and what in the time would you like to visit?
Being part of a family business, for me, it would be really nice to go back to when my father and mother were in their late teens and early 20s, understand who they wanted to be, what they wanted to do and fight with all those questions that ultimately led to where I am today, both professionally and personally. I'd like to go back and spend a couple of days hanging out with them.
Do you know anyone who would be a great candidate for our "Five Minutes With" feature? Email AMN Editor Amy Antenora.