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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.”
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
BY JASON NORRIS | CFA
Volatility reigned supreme over the summer. The old Wall Street adage of, “Sell in May and go away,” was prophetic in 2015.
Friday, November 20, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
’Tis the season of giving — and that goes far beyond trees drowning in Lego sets and ironic knitwear. Santa Claus knows corporations are people too, in need of gifts to warm the hearts (and stomachs) of even the most Grinch-like CFOs.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN
Friday, October 30, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER
This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | EDITOR
The media coverage about Pope Francis must have put me in a Biblical frame of mind. Because after touring the latest phase of the South Waterfront development, a mind boggling 1.5 million square feet of office and retail space that will spring up north of the aerial tram over the next few years, I couldn’t stop thinking about the massive project as a modern day creation story.
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