October 27, 2017
We would like to congratulate Matt Croak, president of Wise F&I, for being one of Agent Entrepreneur’s Who’s Who 2017.
Who has been your greatest mentor and why?
I have had a number of great people in my life that I could call a mentor. But, if I have to focus on one person, it would be my grandfather, R.D. Croak. R.D. was president of American Bankers in Florida when I was born. He moved back to St. Louis shortly after and started a small business that acted as a reinsurance intermediary, and also worked in the credit insurance space. R.D. grew up in the slums of St. Louis, overcame adversity, and played on the 1946 Cotton Bowl team for Mizzou. (Go Tigers!) He became very successful through hard work, diligence, knowledge and the ability to form long-standing relationships with business partners by being someone they could always count on.
What advice would you give someone new to the industry?
Always do the right thing, even if it is not popular or contains bad news. Your reputation is everything, especially in this industry. Over the long haul, people need to know that you are trustworthy, competent, and diligent. This industry is large, but small at the same time. I know that is an odd thing to say, but what I mean is that word travels quickly in this business, and what you do (or don’t do) will always come back to help or hurt you.
What do you enjoy most about this business?
Relationships. The relationships that I have been able to foster with our business partners are beyond measure. Our business is one where we have to depend on others and they have to depend on us. I like the team feeling that exists in our business and truly enjoy the people that we work with. Also, the current landscape of the industry is changing, and I love the drive that we are all making to develop better processes using new technology. I feel like the automotive industry has been behind the curve to some degree when it comes to technological change, but we are making huge strides as an industry and company – and it is fun to be a part of the growth.
What has been the most interesting experience in your life?
I started volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and had the honor of taking Make-A-Wish kids on high-speed boat rides. Every ride resulted in smiles all around, and I have fostered relationships with some of the people that I was fortunate enough to meet. I have been involved in a number of charitable events in the past and I love all of them, but this gave me an opportunity to bring joy to kids with a life-threatening medical condition by sharing my passion for boating. Their stories can be sad, of course, but more importantly, they can be inspiring and motivating and can give a person a little bit more faith in the human spirit.