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Clark Whitworth: At the Helm of a Legacy
By: By Peri Kinder
August 10, 2015
After more than 27 years with the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, and after serving as CFO since the early ‘90s, Clark Whitworth has been instrumental in the growth of the company. The group owns dozens of car dealerships in seven states, as well as a sports and entertainment arm that includes the Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake Bees, movie theaters, an arena and sports apparel. Now as president and CEO, Whitworth will oversee the group’s legacy that includes more than 10,000 full- and part-time employees.
How do you define the mission of the LHM Group?
It’s real simple: Enrich lives. That’s what Larry was all about. He always wanted to do the best for everybody. If we stay true to that, we’ll stay true to what Larry and Gail [Miller] established long ago.
How will your work contribute to the organization’s mission?
My role is to make sure the things we agreed to are happening, to hold accountable the enterprise groups but to also support the enterprise groups in carrying out their specific goals related to enriching lives.
Where will the most significant growth occur in the company in the next few years?
The most natural response is automotive. We’ve had a lot of growth there in the last six years and we’re structured for future growth. We’ll also see growth in our finance business, which has done extremely well.
What are your strongest leadership abilities?
I enjoy working with people and helping them reach their potential by utilizing the tools they have. I rely on others a lot, and their abilities and their thoughts. Hopefully that allows them to do their best because if they’re doing their best, I look like a pretty good leader.
How would you describe yourself in one word?
How would your employees describe you?
I believe that they would say that I genuinely like people. At least that is what I hope employees would say about me—that I like everyone I know.
What motivates you?
I’ve always been driven—driven to do better, driven to succeed. I want to do what’s right, make things better and win. And winning doesn’t mean that someone else has to lose, it means that you succeed at what you set out to do.
What was the most challenging lesson you experienced?
Most lessons, the harder they are, you learn the most. When we were putting the [EnergySolutions Arena] financing together, we started with not much but a desire, and went out and worked very hard, met with a lot of people and had a lot of dry runs where we thought we had it, but it didn’t pan out. We finally landed the right deal and it was a tremendous learning experience for me—how to work with people, how to listen to people, how to sift through people who could perform and those who couldn’t perform.
Do you have a mentor?
I was with him for more than 20 years: Larry. He had a complete and utter honesty, drive and sheer brilliance. He had a care and compassion for other people. He never thought himself above others. He was an extremely forgiving guy, but he could be very demanding, too.