While April 2020 may forever bring to mind corporate corridors newly silenced by COVID 19’s arrival in the United States, CarParts.com CFO Ryan Lockwood will likely always remember it as the month when opportunity knocked.
Having spent the previous 10 years in investment management, Lockwood, a portfolio manager for a Southern California investment house, was looking to move to more of an operational role when he got a call from David Meniane and Lev Peker of the management team at U.S. Auto Parts, the car parts retailer that was about to rename itself CarParts.com.Read More
“They said, ‘Why don’t you come out to our offices, and we’ll talk?,’ which I was a little nervous about because COVID had arrived only maybe 4 weeks earlier,” remembers Lockwood, who notes that in the past he had offered the business leaders friendly advice as a “capital markets buy-side professional.”
“They told me, ‘Look, it will just be the three of us in 25,000 square feet of office space—just come by and talk,’” explains Lockwood, who adds that the two men were in the midst of executing an ambitious turnaround plan for the business. Ultimately, they offered Lockwood the position of senior vice president of finance.
Lockwood accepted, and in the months that followed, the business found new traction along its turnaround journey as the auto industry’s struggling supply chains helped to spike car prices for both new and used cars and CarParts.com found itself serving a swelling population of online customers.
For Lockwood—who would be named CFO in Spring 2022—the focus became data insights and profitability for every customer transaction in order to ensure that the company’s upward trajectory would continue.
Says Lockwood: “We needed a lot more data insights about our customers, and fulfilling this need has pretty much informed our every decision.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about CarParts.com … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Lockwood: Our vision is to take the stress out of car repair. If you’re a driver and your Check Engine light comes on, your stomach just sinks. It’s not enjoyable to get a car fixed. It’s not easy to go find—transparently—what it is going to cost to get your car back on the road. Our goal is to disrupt the industry and take the stress out of car repair by having a lot of easily available parts. We are very lucky. We have a two-step distribution model whereby we import from all over internationally and then put the parts in one of our fulfillment centers. We have six of these, which total 1.25 million square feet. We pick it, we pack it, we ship it, and we’re able to pass on the associated savings to the customer. As part of this vision to take the stress out, we offer same-quality parts for a much lower price than brick-and-mortars do.Read More
We’re also working on capabilities to match up customers with a local repair shop and provide a transparent quote on pricing. From the comfort of your own home, you can see what a part will cost and what will the service cost. You can book the appointment yourself, and you’re going to get treated fairly because everyone is seeing these same prices.
My number one priority right now has to do with rolling out our budgets—in a new system. Our budgets used to be done in Excel, but once we did the cut-over to Dynamics, we were able to begin using Workday Adaptive Planning. So, now we’re rolling out a new software for budgeting—which has its own growing pains—but this is going to be the best budget process that we’ve ever had, with more visibility and more real-time data. This is really my first priority.
We’re still undertaking a lot of improvements to fix gaps in our fundamentals, so priority number two for me is being a good partner for the other executive teams. How can I help them—from a business standpoint, from a strategic standpoint, from a finance standpoint—to get some of what I would call these table stakes improvements done to really enable our growth in the next chapter of the company?
We have a very unique opportunity to disrupt this industry. Look at other industries. People enjoy shopping for furniture or shopping for wine or going to the electronics store and looking at gadgets—and all of these businesses have been disrupted. No one enjoys seeing their Check Engine light come on and then going to the local mechanic and not knowing what’s going to happen and then having to pay maybe some money that they don’t have in order to fix their car. No one enjoys this, and yet it’s never really been disrupted. I’m really excited about helping this company over the next 5 years to really drive this disruption and help consumers. I think that doing this will bring about a big social good.
CarParts.com | www.carparts.com | Torrance, CA