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|Archives - March 2006|
|Wednesday, March 01, 2006|
The Weston way
It’s all in the family at Weston Dealerships, where employees say they are rountinely helped through life by the Westons, including CEO Jay.
By Oakley Brooks
The customers? Well, there are 38,000 of them out there and last year they bought $75 million worth of cars and service. The Westons don’t advertise their Pontiac-Buick-GMC lines anymore — word-of-mouth does the trick. The staff? They’re a collection of ebullient folks who take home a turkey at Thanksgiving, a fat bonus at Christmas and can often recount a time when a Weston — current CEO Jay, brother Jan or semi-retired dad Jim — bailed them out of life’s little jams. Current employees average 16 years at the company.
Chuck the management fads and the MBAs. Running a company like a family still works, and works well.
Schofield, 42, benefited from the Westons’ largesse. A decade and a half ago when he and his wife adopted a child on short notice, Jim called him into his office and handed him a check for several thousand dollars. Kids are expensive, Jim said. Later, looking to move from technician to management with a new bachelor’s degree under his belt, he figured he might have to change companies because Weston’s higher positions were sown up. But Jay appeared at his graduation and offered him a slot opening up because of a retirement.
“I can’t see working anywhere else,” Schofield says.
The Westons’ style springs from a strong and visible Christian faith.
“We operate from a moral compass,” says Jan, the CFO. “We believe in right and wrong and God is the source of that.”
The dealership closes on Sunday and church vans are often fixed for free by the service department.
The family also strives to differentiate its work environment from the stereotypical dealership. Smoking is discouraged, the shop is immaculate (they spent $100,000 on new lighting last year) and young technicians are sent to expenses-paid training courses in Seattle and Irvine, Calif., early in their careers.
In an industry where mechanics tend to move every three to five years, that’s a risky proposition. But the Westons figure it’s a strong signal to techs that they want the new hires to stay in the family.
Jay and Jan, both in their mid-40s, play humble leaders and tend to keep the inner workings of the company tight to their chest: no open-book, all-company meetings here. They say they do it — as any upstanding father figures would — to keep employees from worrying. “There’s no sense putting an undue burden on someone if there’s nothing they can do about it,” Jan says. Late last year, after General Motors announced massive layoffs and chatter about GM’s uncertain future spread around the dealership floor, Jay called together the employees. He told them Weston would be around for another 30 or 40 years.
Longtime workers recalled a similar situation in the late 1980s when Weston’s lease was pulled out from under Jim on short notice and the dealership had to move. Technician Brad Huwe remembers when Jim, who had temporarily relocated the service department to a dark warehouse, huddled the mechanics and told them he’d take care of them if they stuck around. Standing in the new 57-bay shop today, Huwe says unequivocally: “He has.”
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
BY HANNAH WALLACE | OB BLOGGER
Demand for organic food continues to soar: Last year, sales of organic food rose to $32.3 billion — up 10% from 2012. In Oregon, organic produce wholesaler Organically Grown Co. has been championing organic growing methods for four decades.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
When I say, “Your Employee is Always Right,” I do not mean “right about the facts,” but rather “right about how they feel” and “right about how they want to be led.”
Monday, June 30, 2014
Oregon Business magazine won two silver awards for excellence in writing in the National American Society of Business Publication Editors Western region competition.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
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