You never know where your success story will begin, but it always begins with taking a chance. Whether you take a chance and reach for the stars or someone takes a chance on you, oftentimes these chances are handsomely rewarded. Such was the case for Rick Stone, Chief Financial Officer of Park Place Dealerships.
After graduating from Stephen F. Austin University with a degree in Finance, Rick was working as an Accounting Clerk for the City of Nacogdoches when a recruiter who believed in Rick and a twist of fate came together with an opportunity of a lifetime, although at the time it may not have seemed like it.
“A recruiter I worked with presented me for a job that I was not qualified to hold,” said Stone. “Thankfully the Schnitzer family took a risk on me and put me in an analyst position for the dealership investments.”
After about 3 years, Rick moved to Dallas to work directly with Mr. Ken Schnitzer- Chairman and Owner of Park Place Dealerships. Rick worked on special projects such as acquisitions, financial analysis, real estate and more. Rick took to his new role with tremendous success and saw the challenges as opportunities. In 2007, he led the effort to bring construction management in-house to improve controls and accountability on real estate construction projects.
In 2015, Rick was promoted to the role of Chief Financial Officer as his predecessor retired. “CFO is the first official title I have ever had with this organization.” During his first two weeks as CFO, Rick made it a point to meet his team face-to-face, although they are dispersed all over DFW as well as Nevada. “In those meetings, one of the common threads in our discussions was the fact that I was there to serve them and not the other way around,” said Rick, “My leadership style is fearless servant, and it works because it’s real. I take the time to know and recognize everyone by their first name or send a quick note of encouragement. They see me every day putting 150% effort right there with them, and they see that I’m not perfect, that I have a sense of humor, and over the past year it has fostered an environment where we support, encourage and edify each other. We laugh together, we cry together, and we battle together. In order to serve others it’s important to establish rapport and get to know the team, because without that rapport they will not seek your service.”
The fearless part of his leadership comes into play by being willing to step out on the thin limbs for his team and for implementing changes, and some may be somewhat unconventional for the industry, to put Park Place in position for greater success. ” It’s [car business] actually a fairly complex business and I thrive on being challenged.”
The fearless factor flows into Rick’s personal life as well. Before he was pouring over financials, he enjoyed pouring his heart out with a good ballad as the lead singer of several hair-metal cover bands during his high-school years. Just recently, he was cast as Mr. Bradley in a production of “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
Family fun includes coaching his sons’ baseball teams for the last 10 years, trips to the beach and tending to a cause close to his heart- youth theatre. “Sounds crazy, I know,” said Rick, “But I’ve seen the confidence in my own kids and in others through performing on stage. In today’s world there are so many ways our youth gets beaten down and discouraged; therefore, it has been refreshing to find an activity that has consistently built them up. The youth is our future and it is incumbent upon all of us to put our youth in position to succeed.”
Whether coaching a baseball team or supporting the accounting team at Park Place, working behind the scenes doesn’t present much room for recognition, however to Rick it’s not the trophies or the plaques that motivate him to work harder. “Seeing a deal get closed or a member grow and develop is what really drives me.