Rob Glander, CEO and president, GWC Warranty Corporation, is an interesting person. He seems to be one of those rare people who live life to the fullest. When talking to Rob, he is just as passionate about providing the best service in the business as he is about his family, books, music and a sundry of other topics, all of which he also discusses on his blog. He lists his biggest accomplishment in life as convincing the most beautiful woman in Madison to marry him.
Glander writes a blog at GWCWarranty.com that makes for an engaging read. His humor, intellect and story-telling ability will draw you in. You will quickly find yourself reading one entry after another as he draws parallels from everyday life events to the principles of running a successful business. He also recommends a wide variety of books, TV series and movies to readers. The topics range from the history of the circus, to stories of bank robbers and punk rock stars, and from Nobel-prize-winning economists to the latest political thriller. Glander says the blog “humanizes” the company a little and has been helpful in recruiting new employees and dealer and agent customers.
On his blog, Glander talks about how he joined Twitter “primarily to keep with the thoughts of musicians, actors and other creative types.” But soon, he found business colleagues were following his tweets. Glander describes it as “a bit jarring.” He likens the experience to an episode of Seinfeld, where George’s compartmentalized worlds collide. Glander then invites readers to tweet him with their own experiences engaging in the new social media universe while maintaining personal dignity.
Certainly, Glander has so far achieved many significant things in life. In 2009, GWC recruited Glander to help guide the company out of the depths of the recession. He joined and spent most of 2010 recruiting a top leadership team to re-engineer the entire company, modernizing it from a very traditional, family-run type of business into a more professional operation. Before that, he worked in a variety of finance, operational management, marketing and executive roles at GM/GMAC, Chase Auto Finance, and Barclays Bank after earning a MBA from Northwestern.
Glander’s energy and enthusiasm for life spill over into everything he talks about. When asked about his company, he explains with pride that it was founded nearly 20 years ago, and they are a leading provider of vehicle service contracts and a trusted partner to over 20,000 independent and franchised car dealerships. As he explains the workings of his company and services they offer, he speaks fondly as if he is a proud father recounting the achievements of his children. It is clear that Glander takes his company’s slogan of, “No Worries. Just Drive,” as a personal driving mission.
Over the years, GWC has evolved into a company whose products are sold by both an employee-based sales force and what Glander describes as “a network of some of the most reputable agents in the country.” They offer a full suite of vehicle service contract products, including stated component and exclusionary policies and wraps that dovetail with manufacturer warranties. They have expanded their financial backing to include majority ownership by Stone Point Capital and product backing by Assurant. On the service side, Glander explained, their in-house claims department is co-located with their headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, PA and is staffed by ASE-certified adjusters. “This means that customers, dealers and service shops are always in close communication. The arrangement allows our professionally trained representatives to provide the very best service in the business.”
With over a hundred companies competing in the vehicle service contract industry, Glander says very few do things well and do them honestly. “GWC is proud to be one of the most trusted names in the business and to partner with agents and dealerships who also treat their customers well. We offer our dealers and their customers a “No Worries” experience through outstanding service and expansive coverage options. We also offer agents a “No Worries” experience by allowing them to focus on building their business, spending time on dealer relationships, not dealer problems.”
When GWC establishes relationships with agents, Glander explained, they offer them exclusivity in an area. This eliminates the frustrations many agents face when they are forced to compete with other agents selling the identical product from the same company – a situation that often times forces agents to cut their commissions in order to compete.
While GWC has partnerships with agents, dealerships and finance companies, they have traditionally served independent dealers. In recent years, however, they have experienced rapid growth among franchised dealerships. As those franchised dealerships sell more and more used vehicles, particularly 60,000 plus mileage vehicles, Glander says they look for a VSC provider with experience in underwriting and administering products appropriate for those vehicles. They also enjoy the opportunity to keep some of those riskier vehicles out of their reinsurance pools and let the experts manage the risk. This is a niche Glander says GWC serves especially well and they do so with affordable pricing.
When asked what he views as the biggest issues facing the industry today, Glander shared his concerns about how easy it is for VSC companies to start up in some states. “They are a threat to our industry’s reputation. I’ve actually had competitors tell me that they’re funding their business on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, which is insane and will lead to a disaster for their dealers and end customers. GWC has never operated that way, even in its earliest days. We have always been over-reserved and strived to be the players in the ‘white hats’ in our industry. We pay claims! It seems obvious, but in this business, where ‘bottom feeder’ companies start up with very little financial backing and ultimately fail, we have a long history of living up to our promises. Unfortunately, these disreputable approaches have led to some of the regulatory heartburn we are all feeling today.”
In order to succeed in today’s market, Glander says you need to be focused on treating customers honestly and fairly, in part because of regulation but more importantly just because it’s the right thing to do. He believes that many of the excesses of the past have been wrung out of the system and the companies that are succeeding are doing it the right way. For a company to continue thriving in the future, Glander says they will have to invest in talent, training and technology to bring a truly superior product to their customers. “That’s what GWC is focused on and it’s why we’re attracting like-minded agents who share our business values.”
When Glander is not at work, you might be surprised to find him frequenting the local, or international music scene with his kids. “I met my wife in college at Merlyn’s, a legendary punk rock club, and to this day I remain an unapologetic indie-rock music geek. I try to see bands at clubs and festivals, even if it means I’m one of the oldest people there. There’s nothing like spending three days in the California desert at Coachella with your daughter or traveling across the U.K. from club to club with your son to stay connected to your kids while recharging your batteries.”
What advice would Glander give to someone new to the industry? “Join a company with an exceptional leadership team, strategy and culture. If you find that, you will have the opportunity to learn from the best and apply your strengths immediately… You spend a good portion of your life at work, so you better give it the best you have to offer. If you can’t say that you’re proud of what you’re doing, then you’re either doing the wrong kind of work, or you’re the wrong kind of person.”