Store manager | Palumbo's Car Care Center Inc. | Age: 27
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry, I thought I was a professional race car driver! I learned years later that was far from the truth, I started in the shop as a tire man. As a child it was my job to lighten my dad's work load at the shop to get to a race. I swept the shop, took the trash out, rolled tires around, organized oil, organized parts, got in the way but I had an obligation to work hard to get my dad to the track. My first official paid tire man job was when I was 16, enjoying every moment, knowing I was still racing and with every mounted tire and new tread design I was absorbing so much knowledge to make my driving skills better.
What attracted you to the industry?
Growing up with a strong dedicated mechanic family attracted me to the industry and led me to the pride and achievements I seek every day within working as the sales manager in my company. My true passion within the car industry is racing! I never had much interest in baseball. My dad, being a mechanic, introduced me to quarter midget racing at the age of 6. Since that day my goals surrounded my racing, my car, and my team. I learned working at the shop I would increase my knowledge of cars and in return make me a better driver.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
My biggest challenge in my career is my age. At first glance to a customer they see a salesman, at second glance they see a young salesman. I always start out with two strikes against me. My knowledge of old technology and methods runs through my blood, and with my technology-driven generation I have learned and adapted new automotive technology that has expanded my knowledge for our industry. Our industry is divided with polar opposite methods and my age reflects the new industry. I'm driven every day when I turn a critic into a trusted customer, who shakes my hand and proudly says, "I didn't expect that from a man your age."
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Many people come to mind, but the man who sits on the top of my list is my poppy, Elbert Melvin. This man's character is everything I strive for in my career.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I have accomplished numerous goals in my 10-plus years in the industry, what I'm proud of is not limiting myself when I set goals and completing each one, one at a time. I am a G3x Tire Expert, Performance Expert, Bridgestone Pro-Cert, Bridgestone Master Certified, and have completed various boot camps and classes to further my knowledge in this industry. These are incredible to accomplish and with all my training I was able to accomplish a very big goal of mine that I am truly proud of. My biggest accomplishment to date is supplying the entire State of Delaware's police tires. Having that national account with our one shop, family-owned business is something I take pride in the hard work I did to supply them with all of their tire needs. Seeing a cop flex down the highway with the lights and sirens on, I notice the tires and get a great satisfaction knowing I supplied them.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I see myself expanding myself into owning my own shop and expanding my knowledge into the corporate tire distributor market. I thrive on leading a diverse team in healthy competition to expand growth in a great work atmosphere.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
The biggest change in the industry I have been challenged with is the move into online parts and tire sales. As a small business an effective business strategy is difficult.
Tell us about your family.
Working with your family teaches your some valuable communication skills many people would never be able to understand. After working 70 hours a week with each other, my fiancé and I still love cooking Sunday dinners with all of our nieces and nephews.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Saturday Night Racing! April through October I close up shop at 3, load up my 600cc Sprint Car and head to my local dirt track for a great night behind the wheel.
What keeps you up at night?
My customers. Reflecting on each customer that came in the door, processing that our staff gave 100% and lining up the work flow for the next day. As an independent family-owned business I take pride in the fact that we see our cars throughout the whole job.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I am the vice president of my race track, Airport Speedway in New Castle, Del.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
The greatest satisfaction is washing my race car. Taking care of my pride and joy and reflecting on a good night of racing or persevering after an unfortunate night of racing refuels my drive.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Luck! Richard Petty says it best, I would take luck over skill any day.
What’s your favorite food?
Nathan's Hot Dogs! That All American nostalgic item that comforts your soul.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
The man I was named after Kyle Petty. Growing up he was my favorite driver in the No. 42 car and I commend the adversity he triumphed through making his own name in the NASCAR industry behind the Petty name. Kyle Petty's love for the sport reflects the love I have for my work. I applaud his charitable impact on the community with the upmost respect.
If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?
I'd pay you to take it. I already tell everyone if you need to reach me please call my store, Monday through Friday 7:30-6, Saturday 7-3. My boss would pay you so he can get a hold of me on my lunch break.