Following the Father

Over the last year, Chandler Goodman has given serious consideration to pursuing a career working side-by-side with his father at his Alta Mere Automotive Outfitters store and possibly taking over the family business at some point in the future.  He can only hope his career with Alta Mere goes much smoother than his first day on the job, when he was fired by his father.

Greg Goodman has owned his Alta Mere store in Oklahoma City since 1994.  When Chandler was 12 years old, Greg took him to work and offered to pay him $4 and hour to sweep and clean the shop.  Although the pre-teen was more than happy to be able to earn some spending money, a few staff members informed Chandler he was making less than minimum wage and convinced him to ask the boss for a raise.

“Me being the prideful person I am, I thought ‘I’m at least as good as minimum wage, he has to pay me that much,’” said Chandler.  “I marched my little 12-year old self into his office and said I would need more money to keep working there.”

Sensing an opportunity to show his son what the real world is like, Greg fired Chandler on the spot and told him he could find someone to work cheaper.  After Chandler waited in stunned silence for his mother to pick him up and take him home, the family discussed the lesson learned over dinner later that night.  He returned to the store the following weekend, albeit to the good-natured laughter of some of the staff members who encouraged the discussion of a raise.

Years later, Greg Goodman reflected on the story with a laugh, along with the many things he has enjoyed about working with both Chandler and Jillian in their part-time roles in the store over the years.  While many parents lament the decreased amount of time they get to spend with their children as they get older, Greg appreciates the interaction he has with his son and daughter in the workplace.

“It has been just wonderful working with my children,” said Greg.  “What else could a parent want?  Both of my children are very outgoing and are very trainable.  They have been around the business from an early age and they know how I do things and how I expect it to be done.  With both children it has been a wonderful transition putting them into these positions because they are a chip off the old block.”

Jillian started working at the Alta Mere store while in high school, handling tasks such as answering the phone and logging work orders.  After several months, Greg let her start working in sales on the showroom floor selling Alta Mere’s products and services.  She continued to work at the store on a part-time basis throughout college and law school.  For the past eight years, she has worked in a seasonal role as an outside sales representative with SmartView Window Solutions, a division of the Alta Mere store.

In her time working at the store, Jillian has enjoyed witnessing Greg’s love for his job and the generosity he shows his customers, which are the same characteristics he has exhibited at home as a father.  She also appreciates the passion for cars that Greg has passed down to her, as the family will often sit around the dinner table and discuss the latest vehicle makes and models.  Jillian said between being a female and an attorney, she will often get shocked looks from her friends and colleagues regarding her knowledge of cars.

After 12 years of working part-time with Alta Mere/SmartView, Jillian believes her time there is nearing the end.  Due to her burgeoning career as a family law attorney, this summer will likely be the last year she will have the availability to contribute in an outside sales role with the store.

While Jillian’s tenure with Alta Mere is coming to a close, Chandler recently approached his father about an increased role with the store upon graduation from college.  Currently a junior at Oklahoma State, Chandler decided against pursuing a career in architecture in favor of earning a business/finance degree and following in his father’s footsteps by working at the Alta Mere store.

“I always had an underlying sense of pride when it came to our family business,” said Chandler.  “Although I wanted to be an architect from an early age, once I looked at other opportunities, I automatically funneled back to the Alta Mere store.  Not only was it familiar and I knew that I would enjoy, but it is also an opportunity to be with my father.  My father is my best friend.  I spend more time with him than anyone on this planet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Greg welcomed the possibility bringing on Chandler on a full-time basis and possibility passing along the business to him, but it didn’t come without a moment of apprehension.  Since having that discussion, Greg has taken steps to increase sales and add value to the franchise.

“I would say that (my wife) Patti and I were excited about that but at the same time, it was a little scary.  We were thinking about my exit strategy and planning for our retirement.  Now that changes things if he is going to stay here and we are not going to sell the business and our real estate holdings.  It had us a bit worried, but Chandler and I have been working together for so long and we do such a good job together, that it’s going to be a great system.  He will come in with a business/finance degree and we will have my expertise of doing this for 35 years.  Combine those factors and we can take our business to the next level.”

In the meantime, Chandler is focusing on finishing his degree, learning as much as possible about the business and appreciating the time he is able to spend with his father.  He has also gained perspective over the last year from the passing of his grandfather, who helped Greg get his start with an auto detailing business more than 30 years ago.

“By far, the best part about working here is that I get to spend time with my mentor, my father, the person who has done everything for me,” said Chandler.  “He is someone I want to spend time with and model myself after.  Not only do we get to walk through this path of life together, I get to talk to him about those experiences and he is always right there with me.”

Greg, Chandler and Jillian have enjoyed the time they have been able to spend together and they believe their experience working at their Alta Mere store has brought them closer as a family.  Although their work dynamic may change their interaction while in the store, there is no doubt about how Greg views his two favorite staff members.

“They are always my kids first and my employees second,” said Greg.  “There is no way around that and you can’t change it.  Whoever tells you otherwise is just not telling you the truth.”

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