In this installment of “Five Minutes With,” we get to know Ted Wentz III, CEO of Quadratec, which is the world’s largest independent Jeep aftermarket parts and accessories retailer. Quadratec, a family-run business celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, was founded by Wentz’ father.
What was your first job in the industry? Was it in the family business?
It was! I was a young boy and my dad would pick me up after school in the family Jeep and drive me over to the office. I would pack boxes, sweep floors, mail catalogs, or whatever needed done.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket?
I was pretty young when this all got going so I don’t know if I raised my hand to come into work or not, but I certainly enjoyed it. I’m sure some days I wanted to go in and some days I didn’t but as far as being interested in Jeeps, I’ll never forget the day my dad brought home our first Jeep. The roof came off it, the doors came off it. What more could a boy want? [It was an] instant infatuation with Jeeps that never died. I did not think it was going to become a career, but here I am.
I thought I was going to go into International Relations. I went to University of Virginia and then wound up in Washington, DC, working in Homeland Security after 9/11. I did that for a little while. I thought it was the career path I was going to go down – 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 type of challenge. I switched to the private sector and that took me back to the aftermarket. I did a little time on the OEM side as well, with Toyota. But the aftermarket is a lot of fun, and my family business was a great company, and here I am.
Family businesses are challenging, unique, special and hard all at the same time.
What do you like best about your current position?
I’m really a manager of people at this point in my career, with the size we are. So, I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching our employees innovate, take risks and really drive their own success, which turns into success for us. I find that makes me feel like we are part of something that is not just a couple of folks; it’s collective success.
What do you do when not at work?
A lot of my time is spent adventuring with my wife and two little boys; they are getting bigger every day. They run me ragged but if I have some time to myself you will find me racing cars or boats or pretty much anything that can be raced. I don’t do it as much at this point in my life but I certainly enjoy it.
What one 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 dad bought all those years ago that really launched the business. I love driving it. I also have a 2003 BMW M5, that is fun to go fast in, and has four doors. And, I still have my SCCA Ford racecar, but it rarely gets used these days.
What are you currently reading?
Right now, I’m reading a book called “Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions.” The book is written by the current president of the University of Virginia. It’s a short little book, and it’s all about asking questions as a way to get smarter, make good decisions and move the game forward. It was based on a speech he gave. Fascinating little book and I’m enjoying it.
If you could time-travel, to where and what in era would you want to visit?
Being a part of a family business, to me, it would be really neat to go back to when my father and mother were in their late teens and early 20s, figuring out who they wanted to be, what they wanted to do, and wrestled with all of those questions that ultimately led to where I am today – both professionally and personally. I’d love to go back and spend a couple days hanging out with them.
Know someone who would make a great candidate for our “Five Minutes With” feature? Email AMN Editor Amy Antenora.