Full of energy, determination and humor, there’s apparently no stopping serial entrepreneur Allison Nekervis of Currituck County. She’s a Navy wife, mom, mentor, sports coach and global business person who’s always thinking about the next big thing, as well as all the little things that go with her many roles.
“Make it better, make it better. I’m always looking to improve what I’m doing or to do something new,” Nekervis says. “I’m not a cookie-cutter kind of person.”
Her two current businesses — Godfather’s Automotive, a specialized parts supplier, and Sur-Pak, a packing and shipping store — are both successful, and she’s now planning several other new enterprises she’s not ready to discuss. With Nekervis’ over the top work ethic and grit, chances are they will also prosper.
She credits much of her success to the nomadic lifestyle of a Navy wife: “Meeting people from all over the U.S. and the world was a real asset. I have connections all over the world and I’ve brought that into my businesses. When I first meet a new customer from a distant place I can often make a shared connection. It’s very helpful when I understand their culture and make a connection.”
That global understanding is perhaps most useful in Godfather’s Automotive where she deals with buyers from far-flung locales. Customers hail from Malaysia, Sweden, Israel, Brazil and just about any country where they drive BMW or Land Rover vehicles. Godfather’s used parts business focuses on these two auto makes, often owned by collectors and enthusiasts.
Nekervis recalls how when she first started Godfather’s in South Texas, where husband Anthony was stationed in 2006, she would buy wrecked or salvaged Land Rovers and BMWs. Nekervis would retrieve the vehicles, bring them back, take them apart for warehousing and sell the individual components. The market value of those hard-to-find parts greatly exceeds the cost of the purchased vehicle. She sells almost exclusively through online merchant sites eBay and Amazon.
Buying salvaged vehicles Nekervis adopted a philosophy of nothing goes to waste. Parts that are broken or otherwise not valuable for resale are sold to scrap dealers. “Every dime is important,” she says. Perhaps that is why Godfather’s is now one of the largest specialty auto parts suppliers on the East Coast, shipping engines, ash trays, body parts, carburetors and much more around the world.
One of the more precious, yet unusable, parts Godfather’s pulls from vehicles are the catalytic converters containing precious metals such as gold and platinum. Nekervis keeps a close eye on current pricing for these valuable components, hoarding them until market prices are sufficiently high. She once saved two years’ worth of catalytic converters until the price was right to sell. She also notes with satisfaction that new enacted tariffs on steel and aluminum have caused the price of those two metals to increase dramatically, a positive boost to the Godfather’s bottom line
“It’s not just luck. There is a strategy here,” says Nekervis.
Asked how she came to name the business with a Mafia-like moniker, Nekervis says it came to her shortly after her family moved to Texas. Nekervis had to buy tires for her car. The tire tech asked about the wheels for mounting the new tires. She directed him to her car trunk. The Texan then asked her: “You’re not going to throw me in there are you?” The tech was apparently a fan of “The Sopranos” television series and detected her faint New Jersey accent at the time. Nekervis assured him he had nothing to fear.
One thing leads to another
Godfather’s followed Nekervis as her family moved to various Navy bases, most recently Norfolk and settling the family in Currituck. She has several employees working out of a 2,600-square foot warehouse on Knott’s Island. Her team ships more than 4,000 packages a year.
The auto parts entrepreneur allowed locals to drop off UPS and Federal Express parcels for pickup at Godfather’s. She noticed that some customers came from mainland Currituck; she recognized a business opportunity there. About a year ago, Nekervis opened Sur-Pak, a busy walk-in package supply and shipping store fronting Caratoke Highway in Moyock.
Like Godfather’s, Sur-Pak adheres to Nekervis’ “waste nothing” principles. She and the Sur-Pak team reuse packing materials and shipping boxes. A number of other Currituck area businesses drop off their lightly used boxes, foam “peanuts” and other packing materials.
Nekervis enjoys the sense of community among Currituck businesses but finds one thing lacking. As a big advocate of mentoring, she wishes there was a local program that fosters experienced business people counseling the less experienced. Nekervis has two longstanding business mentors who she calls “at least once a month and sometimes much more.” Over the years Nekervis has found their sage advice “really valuable.”
A balanced life
Nekervis finds satisfaction outside of her very busy businesses. She has firm, considered beliefs on how to raise her two daughters (Isabelle, 13, and Lilly, 15), and a solid commitment to giving back to the community.
For example, she insists that her teen daughters “always” share a bedroom because it teaches them to better bond and work together: “Families in other cultures believe that kids should share a room even if space would allow them to have separate rooms.”
Nekervis also insisted that Lilly and Isabelle join the Currituck High School tennis team where their mom is an assistant coach. “There’s a saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Well, I’m leading them to water but I’m going to drown them until they do drink the water,” says the determined assistant tennis coach.
Giving kids medals for participation without achievement is a concept that Nekervis and her husband absolutely reject. She says that perseverance and reaching a goal are what matter most, as if that wasn’t obvious from her own commitment and success.