60 Seconds With Walt Gutierrez
by Clay Neely
Where are you originally from?
I moved here eight years ago with my family, from Naperville, Illinois. A suburb right above Chicago.
How did you wind up in Newnan?
Toyota decided they wanted a store here, so we put our names in the hat and we were fortunate enough to be chosen.
How did you get involved with The Welcome House?
I have an almost corny passion for making sure that support is given back to the community. It is our responsibility to do so. As a family, we have been given an amazing opportunity and, given our great successes, it felt like giving back was the right thing to do. When we first arrived, we searched out many different charities and the Welcome House was just one of them. When we heard about their mission we realized it was really right up our alley. We didn’t want to just send them a check, we wanted to be involved.
What other charities do you work with?
We’re a big fan of Coweta Samaritan Clinic. We also recently joined with Camp Southern Ground, due to their connection with children. We think Zach is doing something special and we want to be on the ground floor with his mission. We get involved in some way in response to just about anyone who asks. We also seek people out, specifically, who might need some help. It makes us feel great. We’re not complete without doing reaching out to help and we hope to set an example. It’s always been my view that 20 percent of the people are doing 80 percent of the work in this community. My calling, is to get more people off the sidelines and involved.
What is some of the best advice someone has given you?
Since I was coming to the South from the North, it was a big jump culturally-speaking. On the second day the dealership was open, we were cranking. I was running all over the place and this older gentleman, probably 70 years old, pulled me off to the side and he said “Son, you’d better slow down.”
That was the message that I needed. I wasn’t going to change the community, the community was going to change me — and that has stuck with me ever since. Now, I operate in a much calmer and more thorough fashion. When you slow down, you’re not missing steps and are, subsequently, more effective.
The South is the best kept secret — bar none. We love it it here and we could never imagine leaving. This is our home.