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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Ted Wentz’s leadership was shaped in part when he and his wife had a confrontation with a bear.

“One sunny September afternoon, we were hiking in Yellowstone Park, and were charged by a grizzly bear,” Wentz said. “His white teeth, snarling face and sheer size are forever etched in my memory. I will never know why that bear did not eat us but his decision emboldened me not to waste one second of my life and to become the leader I am today.”

Wentz is CEO of Quadratec, the world’s largest independent Jeep parts and accessories company.

The company was founded in 1990 by Wentz’s father, and growing up Wentz packed boxes and put away inventory after school, learning the business from the ground up. After college at the University of Virginia, Wentz served at the Department of Homeland Security in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. He returned to school to earn an MBA at the University of North Carolina, and after graduation, he spent two years rotating through Quadratec’s various departments, learning how to run an e-commerce business.

Wentz then started an outdoor cooking industry e-commerce company, FireCraft. Over eight years, FireCraft grew into one of the largest e-commerce players in the country. Wentz, having proved he could run a successful venture on his own, returned to Quadratec as CEO. He has led the company to record sales each year of his leadership.

“Over the years, I realized the most capable teams trust, believe in and follow leaders who inspire, motivate and champion those teams,” Wentz said. “These employees respect their leaders as people, not their positions. I used to ask my teams to ‘Trust me, this will work,’ and today I ask them, ‘How can I help you succeed in achieving our goal?’”

Wentz said his training for his current CEO role began when he was a boy working on vintage British sports cars and Jeeps with his father, who taught Wentz about cars, tools, driving, business, and how to mix those things together. That laid the groundwork for one day taking over the family business, which Wentz said “is never easy, but I am blessed to have such an opportunity.”

Wentz serves on the board of directors for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade association with more than 5,000 member companies and more than 150 employees.

“I believe this single accomplishment sums up my entire career,” Wentz said. “My suppliers, competitors and colleagues determined I was one of the select few who they wanted to lead our entire industry and protect their passion and livelihood. I am honored by this opportunity and will not let them down.”


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