Henry Gomez was born in Nicaragua to a pharmacist and his assistant. His family arrived in the United States in 1985, leaving behind a beautiful country in political turmoil to land in Miami. Gomez remembers his humble roots — a cramped tenth-floor apartment, and walking everywhere until the family finally bought a Chevrolet Chevette. His father’s heart troubles dictated a move to the cooler climate of Georgia, where his parents started to learn English and ascended the ranks at Ingles Grocery and Amoco Petroleum. Growing up, Gomez attended 13 different schools due to redistricting, but kept up on his studies and eventually helped his parents at their new business: a Mexican grocery store. His parents sold their successful business, so Gomez decided to pursue a degree in criminal justice at Gwinnett Tech. He took a job at Pull-A-Part in 2006, and climbed the ladder of success so quickly that he was offered a managerial position before he even graduated.
“I didn’t take the position because I knew I wanted to finish school,” Gomez said. “I didn’t want it to hinder my studies or make me a less effective manager, so I didn’t take the position.”
Gomez began as a customer service agent at Pull-A-Part Norcross. Under the operations manager, he was promoted to assistant manager and helped develop the core exchange process in use today. He was given an experimental project — aftermarket parts sales — and after earning his degree, was asked to move to headquarters to launch a customer care call center. As the call center grew too big for its conference room, Gomez was promoted to the scrap management team, where he now handles scrap logistics and planning.
“After the six-month period, after I’d been promoted to assistant manager, I kinda knew this would be lifelong,” Gomez said. “I would have the manager teach me something new every week. I’d make him make me do it repetitively until I learned all the systems and how they worked, and started to enjoy it.”
His advice to new hires: try to learn new things all the time. Speak to management about cross-training. Learn the inside aspects of the business, then start learning about the outside. Slowly, he said, you will be recognized as someone who’s interested in the industry, and if you’re tenacious, you’ll reap the benefits.
“Being bilingual is huge,” Gomez said. “We have a diverse clientele at our Norcross store, and the management needed someone bilingual to help. Over time, I learned that, within the company, there are opportunities for Spanish speakers. I’ve translated important documents, spoken to customers and talked to our production staff. To be able to speak to someone in their native language, in any business, is huge. People feel more comfortable, and that makes you more valuable.”
What industry did you work in before you came to Pull-A-Part?
I ran the media section of my parents’ store — music and movies. I kept up with store inventory and purchasing. I also stayed current with the new Spanish music and movie releases.
When was the first time you heard about Pull-A-Part?
When my father-in-law, Mike Hammond, told me about it. I visited him at work several times before joining the Pull-A-Part team. Glad I did!
What did you think working at Pull-A-Part would be like?
I didn’t think I would fit in at first. I am not mechanically savvy. I thought it was all about knowing about parts and how to remove parts. I was terrified on my first day.
What was your biggest surprise once you started?
This job is for anyone that is willing to put the work in. The job is only dead-end if you make it that way. Your next opportunity is right around the corner if you work hard enough.
How do you think your job helps you help people live a better life?
I’ll tell you a story. When I worked at the call center, there was a lady that called on December 23rd that needed to sell her car for Christmas money for her children. She was crying and hoping that we could get out there to purchase her vehicle the same day so that her children would have a Christmas. Sure enough, we, Steven Watts, William Trujillo and myself, made that happen. It’s things like that that happen at Pull-A-Part every day that most of our employees and customers don’t hear about. It puts a smile on my face to have been a part of that.
Are you active in any interesting hobbies, pastimes or community activities?
I enjoy working around my house. I like building things, fixing things and painting. Most would consider that boring, but I really enjoy it. I also help coach my daughter’s tee ball and soccer team.
What is the favorite car you’ve ever owned?
My red 2001 Ford Mustang. I miss that car!