As the co-founder and chief operating officer of DRIVIN, Justin Mahlik wears a lot of hats, as he leads the strategy, finance and operations of the company.
Mahlik has also helped the company form partnerships in the past year-and-a-half with companies like Black Book, Experian, Polk and Cars.com.
“At DRIVIN, we are addressing a really, really tough problem in the automotive industry, and we are doing it with analytics, technology, human capital and a motivation to partner with dealers and move the industry forward,” he said.
“I am proud of the world-class team we have built across our entire organization, as well as a cultural tenet that the ‘Dealer Partner > Company > Self’ to address the problem,” Mahlik said. “Without these foundational elements, I believe DRIVIN would not have seen the success that we have in such a short amount of time.”
So how did he come to the car business in the first place?
Mahlik said it was somewhat serendipitously.
“I had previously spent the majority of my career in finance, working at a middle market investment bank and at a private investment firm. At the latter, we made and/or oversaw a number of investments in the automotive space,” he said.
“I gained a keen appreciation for the size and complexity of, and most importantly, the opportunity in the automotive industry. When Kayne Grau (co-founder of DRIVIN) and I met with Eric Lefkofsky, Brad Keywell, Andy Intrater and Mitch Golub, financial sponsors, to build our game-plan to provide transparency and process improvement to one of the most antiquated operations inside of a dealership, the opportunity was too challenging to pass up.”
Lastly, we asked Mahlik to name some of the people he has admired professionally. He shared a few, breaking the list down by different categories.
- Mentor: “Brian Clingen, former chairman and CEO of KAR Auction Services, is a great example of someone who is able to clearly see the larger goals and mission of an organization, yet gives managers autonomy when managing their functional areas of expertise, but at the end of the day brings teams together to accomplish their goals.”
- Educator: “Harry Kraemer, former chairman and CEO of Baxter and current professor at the Kellogg School of Management, has had a profound influence on my view of leadership. His values-based leadership and understanding of the character and challenges of leadership are topics I, and fellow Kellogg grads in our organization, try to apply on a daily basis.”
- Family: “I’ve always looked up to my father and his focus on long term goals/success and his ability achieve those goals by leading through commitment — building a shared vision and motivated team, that is committed to the success of the organization first.”
- Colleagues: “I have a deep respect for entrepreneurs and over the last five years in Chicago, it has been exciting to watch many of my friends and colleagues take big risks to address even bigger problems through entrepreneurship. There are too many to name, but their commitment, work ethic and successes have been admirable.”
Justin Mahlik, 35, is the co-founder and chief operating officer at DRIVIN.