Meet Our Team
Raul mazariegos - R&D Rock Star
Raul was born and raised in Garland, TX but has spent time all over the Lone Star state. Raul worked with various automotive related companies while attending school including Classic BMW, Sears Automotive Center, Alderson Cadillac, BMW, Subaru and Lexus, and Texas Tech University Parking Services. He attended and graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at Tech he was part of the Tech Off Road Club, Tech Paintball Team, and the Tech Racquetball Team.
After graduation Raul moved down to Midland, TX and began working as an Open Hole Wireline Engineer for Weatherford International. He spent 4 years working in West Texas before moving back to the DFW and joining The Seat Shop. Raul quickly became a valuable part of the team. With a knack for details and a passion for the automotive industry, he is consistently working behind the scenes at The Seat Shop, pumping out new vehicles releases and expanding out product line.
He not only enjoys working on cars, he loves driving them and managed to complete a tour through all 48 continental US states in 16 days. Some other activities he enjoys are snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, racquetball, and eating. In his travels he has also managed to attempt and complete a few food challenges.
Aaron "A-Aron" hooper – production manager
Aaron was born and raised in Plano, TX and a graduate of Plano Senior High. After high school he attended Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX. After graduating with a Bachelor of Administration degree in General Business he moved back to Plano in search of a job. He is one of the newer team members here at The Seat Shop, and has moved comfortably into the position of production manager. He spends the majority of his day running the Gerber Taurus II cutting table, ensuring each piece of leather is cut to the factory specifications. Aaron enjoys hunting, fishing, and golfing in his spare time. His favorite place to fish is Lake Fork here in Texas.
Josh Barton - e-commerce Specialist
Josh was born in New Jersey and spent his early years on the east coast, before a job transition led his family to California. After attending college and getting married, he eventually made his way to the DFW area and got involved with an eBay focused eCommerce company based in Bedford. After spending 6 years there honing his skills, which culminated in the position of General Manager, he found himself in need of a change.
Josh joined The Seat Shop team in October of 2016, and immediately became involved in preparing our new website for launch. He has a passion for eCommerce as well as the customer experience, and enjoys learning new skills and information whenever possible.
Josh lives in Fort Worth with his wife Haley and their two children. He enjoys spending time with them and continuing his relentless search for the best burger in the world.
christopher benson – materials manager
In a suburb of Philadelphia, born and raised…. Christopher moved to Texas in 2004 where he spends most of his days. Having worked in the golf industry for 14 years, Christopher held several different positions, with many different responsibilities including sales, custom fitting, operations and custom production.
After his time in the golf industry Christopher ran a packaging company whose focus was packaging vitamins and supplements. In April of 2017,Christopher was brought on board as Materials Manager and is excited to bring his wide array of experience to the team. Christopher enjoys spending time with his 3 daughters and his fiancée Katrina.
Jill Verhalen – Controller
Jill is a native of Plano, TX. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and graduated with her Masters in Accounting in 2006.
Before working full-time for The Seat Shop, Jill was an Algebra teacher and soccer coach at a local high school. As The Seat Shop grew over the years, they found themselves in desperate need of someone who could take over the growing accounting responsibilities as well as develop and integrate new efficient business processes.
In 2009, Jill left education and became the Controller at The Seat Shop. Her ability to keep track of the many moving parts of our business and keep them all organized has allowed us to grow at such a rapid pace while maintaining a high level of customer service.
Jill is married to Matt, one of the owners and they have two children. She enjoys spending time with her family and dog, Biscuit, and watching almost any sporting event.
Hunter Swindell – operations Manager
Hunter was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. After high school, he attended Kilgore Junior College in East Texas for 2 years before transferring to The University of Oklahoma. He graduated from OU in December of 2008 with a degree in Economics. Shortly after graduating, Hunter moved back to Dallas and began looking for a job. Hunter met Brian at a mutual friends’ bachelor party and had gotten back in touch with him at an April 2009 NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Seat Shop was at the race for their first company retreat and soon Matt, Brian and Hunter began talking about The Seat Shop. A few months after the race, The Seat Shop was growing so quickly they could barely keep up with all the orders. Hunter was hired part-time to help in the back and caught on very quickly. It wasn’t long before Hunter was offered a full time position as Operations Manager. At The Seat Shop, Hunter is responsible for the day to day research and development of new patterns and product offerings. Hunter shares Matt and Brian’s passion for customer service and often is the recipient of letters from customers thanking him for his service and attention to them. His attention to detail and his ability to research and solve manufacturing challenges has allowed the company to operate more efficiently and enjoy a shorter product development cycle.
In his spare time, Hunter enjoys hunting and fishing at his family’s ranch in East Texas. He also enjoys summer weekends at Lake Texoma with his friends. Hunter is an avid sports fan and has got most of the office listening to sports talk radio and watching every Rangers, Stars, or Cowboys game. But nothing comes close to Hunters devotion to OU Sooners football. As certain as death and taxes, if the Sooners are playing, Hunter will be watching.
Brian Verhalen – President
Brian brings so much to The Seat Shop team. His ability to adapt on the fly and solve complex problems with innovative solutions enables us to address challenges effectively and efficiently. With what others at the shop refer to as “The Vault”, Brian stores an immense amount of knowledge between his ears. If any of the other team members have a question about seam patterns, compatibility issues, etc. Brian is always the guy they turn to. His passion for serving his customers is un-matched in the industry and has helped build The Seat Shop’s reputation of being obsessed with Customer Service.
On the weekends you will likely find Brian either duck hunting in the winter or at the lake in the summer. He is an avid hunter and loves shooting sporting clays in the off season and riding his four wheeler. In the summer you will likely see him flying across the lake in his speed boat or floating in a cove with his friends. Where ever you find Brian, you know his golden retriever “Bud” will always be close behind. Brian lives in Little Elm, TX.
Born and raised in Richardson, TX Brian has always been an entrepreneur at heart. His professional resume can reach as far as the 3rd grade, selling candy on the playground. Of course Brian wasn’t happy just selling a few pieces of candy each day, so he would call the school directory and take “pre-orders” for the following day! After the teachers figured out why all the kids were so hyper after recess, the principal shut his operation down. Brian knew then what he wanted to be when he grew up, he wanted to own his own business. Through Junior High and High School Brian started and grew Crew Cut Lawn Service, a landscaping company that he would later sell before going to college.
Brian attended the University of Arkansas where he became a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and earned his degree in Business Management and Small Business Entrepreneurship. Upon graduation he returned to Dallas and began working at a technology recruiting firm McArthur and Associates. After gaining great sales and prospecting experience from McArthur, it wasn’t long before he felt the need to pursue his dream. With a love for cooking and business, Brian started Brian’s Best Concessions and Catering. Brian’s Best soon began building relationships and booking events with regular clients. The work was hard and the hours were long, but Brian’s work ethic and determination kept him going.
A few years past and Brian continued to work at growing Brian’s Best. In 2006 Brian and his brother Matt decided to start a business together and The Seat Shop was born. Now working on growing two companies, Brian’s day would start at 5am and sometimes wouldn’t end until midnight or later. On a particularly hot summer day while working in his concession trailer he had made a startling discovery. Brian had made more money selling 3rd Row Seats on eBay in a few hours than he did all day in his concession trailer. It wasn’t long before he sold Brian’s Best and dedicated 100% of his time to growing The Seat Shop. The rest as they say is history.
Matt Verhalen – Chief Executive Officer
At The Seat Shop Matt manages the business direction and growth strategy of the company. In such a fast moving company it is easy for everyone to get lost in “fighting fires” as they call it and never step back and look at the big picture of the company. Matt has a great ability to take all the moving parts of the business and manage the team in order to keep everyone moving in the same direction towards the same goals. His unique ability to turn creative visions into reality has enabled the company to realize exponential growth year after year.
Matt is also responsible for the IT infrastructure of the company and manages their e-commerce website, the eBay store, and the company’s Amazon.com presence. Matt enjoys visiting with and helping individual customers and also oversees The Seat Shop’s growing network of dealer partners.
Matt is married to Jill, the company’s controller, and they have two children, a son and daughter. Matt loves to watch the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys. Matt loves all types of music and enjoys playing guitar with his friends from time to time. He is a tech geek at heart and always loves learning about the latest gadget or software that hits the market. Most of all Matt loves just spending time with his family, their dog Biscuit, and is very excited about what lies ahead.
Born and raised in Richardson, TX, Matt attended the University of Arkansas and is a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 2001 he graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems and Quantitative Analysis. Despite the collapse of the dot com bubble, Matt was recruited straight of out college to be a Programmer Analyst at Dillard’s Store Systems at their corporate offices in Little Rock Arkansas.
Shortly after starting at Dillard’s, Matt was responsible to writing the back end software that would help the new inventory software communicate with their legacy main frame systems. Matt also played a critical role in the data conversion necessary to re-write Dillard’s supply system software. After gaining some recognition for his role in these projects, the upper management selected Matt to represent Dillard’s in various speaking engagements. At the age of 23 Matt would share the stage with notable business leaders from across the state speaking to college seniors about the transition from college to the business world.
After almost 2 years with Dillard’s Matt was ready for a change and began seeking business opportunities in Dallas, TX. PriceWaterhouseCoopers was in the middle of a major re-write of their auditing software to be deployed globally, and in 2003 they hired Matt as a consultant to test and crash their software in order to eliminate problems before the implementation. After working on this project for a year, Matt decided he wanted to transition into the world of sales. His father was a successful salesman and Matt wanted the ability to directly determine how much income he earned, based on hard work and merit. With little sales experience but a lot of determination, Matt began sending out resume’s and cover letters explaining why they should hire a “technology guy” as their next salesman. Finally Matt got a big break and was hired at the telecommunications firm Inter-Tel Technologies (now Mitel).
Determined to be successful in the sales arena, for the next year Matt spent most of his time at the office. Always starting the first pot of coffee, Matt would usually greet everyone with a “Good Morning” and everyone (including the managers) would make a point to come by his office to say “Good Night” before they left the office. He soon knew the night janitors by name and if you drove by any given night you would most likely see the glow of a single office light through his office window. His hard work eventually began to pay off. Among 20 seasoned salesmen, Matt finished his first year as the number two salesmen just behind one of the top producers in the whole corporation. He was 25 years old.
In the Summer of 2006 Inter-Tel went through a major restructuring and Matt left the company and went to work for CommWorld of Dallas. Working at a much smaller company, he gained valuable experience in customer service and began to gain a reputation of always going above and beyond to take care of his clients. After founding The Seat Shop the same year with his brother Brian, Matt continued to work at CommWorld while running the “back-end” of The Seat Shop business. In 2007 The Seat Shop had grown to point where Brian could no longer run the day to day operations alone. After gaining the tremendous support from his wife Jill, he left CommWorld and began working with Brian to grow their business together.