Teaching and mentoring future leaders is important at America’s Car-Mart – so essential that the company annually recognizes its top mentor. Car-Mart’s 2020 Mentor of the Year is Pat Stutsy-Waldrep, General Manager at Car-Mart of Oxford, Miss.
This prestigious award is presented to a Car-Mart General Manager who goes above and beyond in advising and developing associates to be leaders of the business. Mentors play a vital role in helping to shape and guide future managers on their Car-Mart career journey.
Expanding someone else’s knowledge and helping them achieve their goals. That’s what mentoring means to Pat. “When we can pass on the knowledge of this company, it’s helping our overall business,” she says. “To know that I’m able to train future managers to become Assistant Managers and then become General Managers, that’s rewarding.”
The selection of Pat as the company’s top mentor was an easy selection, according to Ryan Human, Car-Mart’s Director of Associate Development. Pat’s mentees moved on to be successful Assistant Managers and General Managers. “Pat perfectly embodies who we are and what we stand for as a company,” he says. “Her commitment and dedication to her mentees translates into results. You can definitely see Pat’s thumbprint on her mentees.”
“We are so proud to have Pat on our team and making such a positive difference in Oxford,” says Jeff Williams, Car-Mart President and Chief Executive Officer. “She always gives her customers peace of mind by keeping them on the road. She does that by investing her whole self in her associates so that they have opportunities to grow and advance as they serve our customers at the highest levels.”
Paying it forward
Pat’s keys to mentoring include patience, dedication, respect, and listening, as well as enjoying helping people. Plus, she has an inner drive to be the best and she forwards that passion on to her mentees.
“You have to be dedicated to your job as a General Manager and also be involved with your mentees,” says Pat, who has ‘rules of three.’
When associates start training with Pat, she shares her three rules:
- You’re in charge. Learn as much as you can about the business.
- Ask questions of me.
- Be involved in the business.
Do what needs to be done – answer phones, take payments, be out on the lot, talk to customers.
She also advises her mentees to take notes and suggests they focus on three things:
- Sell the car to the right person.
- Collect the money.
- Watch your expenses.
During this past year, Pat mentored 11 associates. “Their advancement is important to me. I want them to go far in this company,” she says. “My mentees give me energy. And, I enjoy seeing them succeed.”
Pat’s mentees are ‘POPs’ – ‘Products of Pat.’ “They care about me, and I care about them,” comments Pat, who stays connected with her mentees via text messages providing them inspirational quotes and words of encouragement. “I want them to know I will continue to be there for them.”
She is the first Car-Mart General Manager to have more mentees promote to positions in other regions than her own region. Her mentees are currently Assistant Managers and General Managers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Missouri.
Pat attributes her mentoring success to her team of associates in Oxford “I wouldn’t be able to be an effective mentor if I didn’t have a talented and motivated team,” says Pat. “They take pride in us training future leaders of the company.”
A commitment to mentoring
“Our associates are the foundation of our company’s business model,” says Ryan, while adding mentoring is an integral part of Car-Mart’s Future Manager training program. “By empowering our associates to be successful, we’re able to grow our business and better serve our customers. That’s why we’re intentional with our focus on the growth and development of our associates.”
“Plus, it’s [the mentor award] more than recognition, it’s a thank you to our General Managers for performing at the highest level through mentoring,” Ryan continues. “Our mentors inspire the rest of us at Car-Mart to further develop and grow. And, our mentors define our legacy and enables our growth moving forward. Pat is a huge part of this workplace culture.”
In Step with Pat
Pat holds a degree in Physical Education and a paralegal degree with a Business Minor from Mississippi University for Women, Columbus, Miss. She is also a member of UMWAA’s Diversity & Inclusion committee.
She joined Car-Mart in 2014 and has received numerous awards, including Top 10 Lot of the Year in 2020 and 2017, Lot of the Year in 2019, and Pace Setter in 2015. She is also active with the Oxford, Miss. Chamber of Commerce.
In her role as General Manager, Pat always looks for ways to help her customers. And, for two citizens in Oxford, Pat did just that. She connected customers Tiana and Joann and made a difference in their lives.
“This story makes me happy. It’s magical. Both individuals are outstanding citizens. They have passion and they have an internal drive to be successful,” says Pat. “They’re part of our Car-Mart family and we want to do all we can to help them and all our customers. We live and work in the neighborhoods of our customers, and we’re proud to be a part of their communities.”
Check out ‘Car-Mart – A Family Experience’ to see the full story.
To learn more about Pat’s journey at Car-Mart, check out ‘In step with Pat Stutsy-Waldrep.’
What’s Pat’s advice to associates and future associates about working at Car-Mart?: “Come to work ready every day and give it your best. Focus on today. Forget about yesterday. At the end of the day, close the lot and be ready to open tomorrow. Push forward and do great things every day.”