Change Is The Operative Word For CarParts.com CFO
For many more reasons than the obvious strains of the pandemic, it has been an eventful year at CarParts.com. In October, the online supplier of automotive parts and accessories went public, a huge event for any company. November saw record-setting sales as the “do it for me” economy transformed to “do it yourself.” Also in November, the company launched a national ad campaign and brand identity based on the customer experience of ordering parts online, and also landed a NASCAR sponsorship. And to top it off, CEO Lev Peker and CFO/COO David Meniane were named silver medal winners in the Executive of the Year and Operations Executive of the Year in the Best in Biz Awards.
And all of that doesn’t even scratch the surface for Meniane, a 15-year accounting and startup veteran. For the last two years, as the CFO of CarParts, he has overseen what he calls “a massive, extreme makeover” of the company, which went from a market cap of $30 million two years ago to about $750 million currently. Change has been the operative word for Meniane as he has managed the finances of a public company and dealt with the changes brought by remote work and the pandemic. It has led to accelerated payments changes that other companies have had to implement at a slower pace.
“For accounts receivable, we had to make a change,” Meniane told PYMNTS. “We basically had to put up a requirement that we’re no longer accepting check payments. We have a wholesale business as well as our consumer business, and a lot of our customers still send physical checks. So we had to move everyone to ACH or wire payments on the AP side. We also had to convert everyone to paperless invoices. We still have auto dealers that send us paper invoices that have to be processed and scanned. So we had to make a change.”
The change led to more efficiencies for Meniane and his team, but there was the inevitable resistance from some customers. When the one-time option of paper was quickly washed out by the pandemic and remote work, digital changes became mandatory at CarParts. As Meniane noted, both the company and its customers needed to bite the bullet and move forward without paper — not that he sees many downsides to that change.
“The efficiency is definitely a positive,” he said. “For us, it was mostly about internal controls. Our business is going really fast and the team is spread across three different time zones, so internal control is always a big challenge. And because we’re a publicly-traded company and we have an audit, the new process, the automation, the technology investments we’re making, it actually makes our job a lot easier. It’s faster, which is great. But the fact that we have a tracking methodology helps a lot. And that makes my job a lot easier, because at the end of the year, the CEO and I have to personally sign off on our internal controls. So anything we can do to make the process a little tighter, that’s a big win for us.”
As stated earlier, change has been the operative word for Meniane this year. And he knows that change was limited to his department. He credits his team for adapting so quickly to the work-from-home environment and for stepping up to the new controls and processes amid CarParts’ transition to a public company. He’s proud that everyone at the company is committed to producing a leaner, more efficient, tech-focused enterprise as the economy has become digital-first.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for change,” he said. “With a lot of industries, there’s a shift from offline to online. People aren’t going to stores anymore. And I think the same thing is going to happen for the financial and accounting functions. There were a lot of things that required paper and in-person meetings. And now it’s going to Zoom, automation, third-party vendor management systems, and AP and AR processing. So overall, my job is to make sure the team has what they need to make that change happen. And I think that’s what we’ve been doing.”