Like most people who grow up in a family business, I got my start with Atlantic Coast Toyotalift as a teenager. However, I took a break to attend college at North Carolina State, where I earned a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.B.A. After completing my degrees, I started looking for an engineering job. In the meantime, I worked for the family business. Eventually, I put the engineering job search on hold and settled in to my customer service role.
Learning the Business One Department at a Time
When I first started handling customer service, we didn’t have much of a proactive system to speak of. It was mostly going out and handling predefined issues. Since then, our VP of Sales, Greg Creed, and I have developed a customer service department and philosophy that is very proactive. Over the last few years, this proactive customer service philosophy has developed into one of the company’s core competencies and it is something I’m very proud of.
After developing the customer service side of the business, I moved over to parts. Working in that department taught me a lot about inventory control. One of the biggest things I learned is that, regardless what a part costs, if a truck is down, you better have it in stock. I also dabbled in the service side of the business briefly before accepting my next position, VP of operations.
As VP of operations, I took on my largest role yet. The job encompassed every aspect of the business except equipment sales. I handled the role to the best of my ability and ultimately, earned another promotion.
Reaching the Top
About two months ago, my father, Vann Williford, decided to take a step back and assume a CEO/CFO role. He offered me the position of President and I accepted. I still do a lot of what I did before, but now it’s more about big picture things. It is important that everyone is moving in the same direction, and it’s my responsibility to make that happen.
Taking over the family business at the age of 31 is something I’m proud of. This company is something my father worked at for 35 years, and he deserves the opportunity to take a break. I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue what he started.
|Meet the Author
Jay Williford is the president of Atlantic Coast Toyotalift, located in Winston Salem, NC, and on the Web at www.actforklift.com