The doors for James “Rad” Weaver’s education and eventual career in finance flew wide open when he met local billionaire businessman Red McCombs during his senior year of high school.

“He asked me, ‘What are you doing to help your mom?’ and I told him about my part-time job that paid $10 an hour,” Weaver said of the introduction that followed his selection for a college scholarship. “He said, ‘I’ll pay $7.50 if you want to come work for me,’ and I said, ‘Sure, what time and where do I start?’ That was 24 years ago.

“It changed my life forever.”

Weaver’s humble beginnings washing and parking cars and doing other odd jobs at McCombs’ dealerships and the family ranch got him to his present-day position – CEO of McCombs Partners, the division of McCombs Enterprises that invests in businesses, locally and all over the world.

Weaver was also recently elected as this year’s chair of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, an organization committed to helping create a business-friendly environment and promoting local business.

It’s a role he has been preparing for long before joining the Chamber board.

Born in Odessa, Texas, but raised in San Antonio, Weaver goes by Rad – a nickname that comes from his middle name, Conrad, which was his grandfather’s name. Weaver was named after his father, James, a former high school football coach and administrator who passed away when Weaver was 16.

“I was very close with my dad. He was a mountain of a man with a big, deep voice, and he spent a lot of time with me,” Weaver said. “He taught me many things. He was super competitive and I’m probably competitive to a fault.”

Weaver added that his father taught him to play football, but more importantly, to look people in the eye and stand behind his word. “Ethics and character mattered more than anything,” he explained. “Hopefully, I’m a reflection of that.”

When it came time for college, Weaver chose baseball and played for the University of Texas for four years. Between semesters and on holidays, he returned to his job with McCombs.

“It has been one of the true blessings of my life to spend the amount of time with such an incredible guy who is willing to give both his time and impart some of his wisdom,” Weaver said. “So much of what makes Red Red, is his natural instinct, and that’s a hard thing to teach somebody. But he’s certainly done the best he can to show us how to approach different situations and be able to learn from those.”

McCombs Partners is one of four arms of McCombs Enterprises, which includes the auto dealerships he’s known for, an energy business, a real estate investing firm, and the private investment management firm that Weaver leads today.

“These assets are all over the world,” Weaver said. “Sometimes they find us, most of the time we find them. We say we don’t think we make good investors, but we make good partners. So when we get involved, we try to be very involved in the businesses, not just be a source of capital.

“ I spend most of (my) waking hours chasing those deals somehow, evaluating the deals we are looking at, or learning about the management team or the industry, or selling these businesses. Red doesn’t like to sell anything, but we do, and that’s a whole process in and of itself. The reality is that all of these businesses have complications.

“There’s always something we’re dealing with, so I spend a lot of my time trying to problem solve.”

Weaver also serves on the boards of Cox Enterprises, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ San Antonio Branch, and the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and is a member of the Texas Business Leadership Council and the development board at the UT Austin.

Weaver will be working with the San Antonio Chamber to find solutions to several current issues facing businesses and the city in the forthcoming year, including education and community health and wellness, said Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez.

“Rad brings impeccable business credentials as CEO of McCombs,” Perez said. “He’s a protégé of Red, one of the most successful leaders in San Antonio. He brings youth and a quiet leadership style that is very easy to work with. He’ll be my ninth (board president), so I’m excited about the cadre of leaders he knows who will help fulfill Chamber goals.”

Weaver said he’s been following both Perez and Chairwoman Renée Flores on various issues and feels that the business climate in San Antonio is currently on the positive end of the spectrum. Local elected officials are willing to listen to viewpoints, giving business leaders like himself the chance to work on long-term issues, he added.

“San Antonio has been great to my wife and (me), and anything we can do to help our community, we want to try,” said Weaver, who owns a few small businesses outside of his work with McCombs.

“We understand the challenges that small businesses have in any community and the opportunities as well,” he said. “The Chamber is a great spot to spend time if you’re going to be civically minded as an entrepreneur.”

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Shari Biediger

Shari Biediger is the development beat reporter for the San Antonio Report.