Meet Our Team
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.
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.
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 and his wife Cara heading North to their Ranch in Bells, TX. They love hosting parties like their annual Crawfish boil, or just spending quality time together, fishing on their ponds. Come summer time when the Texas heat sets in, you will find Brian and Cara at Lake Texoma floating in a cove under a large umbrella, spending time with “the lake crew”. Brian currently lives in Little Elm TX, but is planning on building on their ranch in Bells.
Born and raised in Richardson, TX Brian has always been an entrepreneur at heart. His professional resume can be traced as far back 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 passed, 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.
Aaron "A-Aron" hooper – MATERIALS 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. Since joining The Seat Shop, he has moved comfortably into the position of materials manager. He spends most of his day running the Zund cutting table, ensuring all of our textiles are cut to the factory specifications. Aaron enjoys hunting, fishing, and golfing in his spare time. His favorite place to fish is Lake Fork, right here in Texas.
Aurelio Chayrez - Production MANAGER
Aurelio was born in San Jose, California, the oldest of 5 children. His family moved to several cities around the Bay Area before settling in Tracy, where he attended high school, and where his parents and most of his siblings still reside.
After attending college in the area and living in northern California for a few years, from 2006-2010 he lived and worked at Hume Lake Christian Camp in the Kings Canyon National Forest. There he met his wife Stephanie, with whom he has 3 daughters. Their oldest daughter was born in Austin in 2013, and their twin girls were born in Fort Worth in 2015.
Aurelio is passionate about family, integrity and striving for excellence. After working for large, somewhat impersonal companies for the past several years, he is truly excited to be a part of such a tight-knit team, and his role as a production manager ensures we can manufacture our products quickly and efficiently.
In his "spare time", he enjoys playing with his daughters and is a self-proclaimed nerd.
Blake anthony woodall – production specialist
Blake Woodall is currently a Production Specialist who operates and assists in the Textile Department at The Seat Shop.
He has B.A. in Liberal Arts however; he has found that he has learned much more by life, as an employee, friends, mentors, and high stress situations.
Blake was in the Construction Industry for three years and worked in several areas. He was a Site Supervisor, OSHA Site Safety Officer; mainly focusing on site supervision construction contracts with the Military and Government. Blake has now joined the Seat Shop and helps maintain the company's highest quality standards: Operating the Textile Cutting Machine used here for the textile cuts and designs needed daily for every order that hits our store. Blake enjoys riding dirt-bikes and will not admit that he is a computer gaming enthusiast.
Buddy Honeycutt – Warehouse Manager
Buddy was born an Oklahoma native, but moved to Garland, Texas in the 6th grade. After playing baseball and football through school, he joined The Seat Shop crew in 2017. He quickly established himself in the back of house, organizing the warehouse, receiving shipments, and ensuring our fulfillment team was efficient and accurate. He's a valued member of the team, and ensures we maintain our high standards for fulfillment on our website, eBay, Amazon, and beyond!
He enjoys riding motorcycles and going to the movies.
Carol Ann Duncan – Accounting
Carol Ann was born and raised in the North Texas area (Plano, Denton, McKinney). She received her Associates of Science from Collin College and is working towards her Bachelors in Accounting. She has worked primarily in the service industry and was a bar manager before coming to The Seat Shop in November 2017. She enjoys working with numbers and was excited to join our team in Accounting.
Carol Ann enjoys spending time with her 3 children and husband, Chad. She enjoys camping, being outdoors, anything involving a lake or the ocean, playing cards, and doing crafts.
Christy Castorena – R&D specialist
Christy works in the R & D Department at The Seat Shop, responsible for researching, patterning, and releasing new covers. She attended college at the University of Dallas, graduating with a Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry and minor in Mathematics. She spent three years working in Irving as an R & D Chemist developing greases for a variety of industrial applications, including mining equipment. In April, 2018, she decided to explore a new industry and joined The Seat Shop. She enjoys working with a smaller group and being challenged by the day to day issues facing research and development.
In her spare time, Christy enjoys spending time with her two horses, a Quarter Horse (Monaco) and a Clydesdale (Emmy). She runs her own Equestrian Vaulting Club - Valico Vaulters - and enjoys traveling out of state to compete with her students.
Courtney Sturdevant – inside Sales
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Courtney attended A&M in Commerce, before graduating from Collin County C.C. with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. During college, she became involved in the service industry, eventually opening over 30 restaurant locations with Front Burner Inc. and becoming their spokes-model. While traveling the United States for work, she developed a passion for people, and for sales.
Eventually, she started exploring other opportunities, and found her way to The Seat Shop. With a long-running interest and passion for classic trucks, she was a great fit for our sales team. She currently resides in Van Alstyne, Texas with her spouse Tyler, and they are looking forward to becoming a family of three in 2019!
Her hobbies include traveling and road-tripping, especially to vintage swap meets, and spending time with her pups.
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 Hunter's devotion to OU Sooners football. As certain as death and taxes, if the Sooners are playing, Hunter will be watching.
Jill Verhalen – Chief operating officer
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, transitioning into the role of COO over the next few years. 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 (CEO), and they have two children. She enjoys spending time with her family and dog, Biscuit, and watching almost any sporting event.
Josh Barton - director of e-commerce and marketing
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 e-commerce 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 e-commerce as well as the customer experience, and enjoys learning new skills and information whenever possible.
Josh lives in Celina, TX 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.
Nathan Parr – inside sales
Nathan is one of the newest members of the team here at The Seat Shop, joining in Oct. 2019. He's always enjoyed working for growing businesses, and with a strong background in sales and customer service, he was an ideal candidate for the role of Inside Sales.
Nathan is an entrepreneur at heart, running a snow cone stand during the hot Texas summers, and is an avid fantasy football player. Texas, cheese fries, and pineapples (pineapples?) are near and dear to his heart.
He currently resides in Allen, TX with Kaley, his wife of 1 year, and they hope to start a family soon (here's to hoping he doesn't have to trade his F150 in for a minivan).
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 our 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.
Buddy – Mascot
Buddy, or Bud, is Brian Verhalen's pride and joy. He's the ultimate good boy, and you can often find him laying around in the middle of the office, or keeping us company at our desks (especially if we happen to be eating lunch).
If you stop by the office, be sure to track Bud down and show him some love!
Biscuit – Mascot
Don't let Biscuit's rough exterior fool you! He may look intimidating, but he's got a gentle spirit.
Biscuit spends most of the work day following his owner Matt around the office (like a puppy), and he will be sure to let you know if you're not giving him enough attention! He's a true asset to the company, and we love seeing his furry face every morning.