Vice President | Thompson Tire Co. Inc. | Age: 20
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in this industry was as a saleswoman in one of our busiest locations. I started the summer I turned 16 and have been with the company ever since. I just completed my junior year as a business major and am now positioned at our corporate headquarters and tasked with all aspects of managing our company.
What attracted you to the industry?
Seeing my strong mother be so passionate about this industry attracted me to it at an early age. I have grown up in this industry, and watched my mother overcome many challenges as she led the company to where we are today. Being raised in this industry has given me a greater passion for it than most. Also, with it being typically a male dominated industry, the challenge of being a woman in the industry has also attracted me.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my career is being a woman selling tires to a southern rural community. In the beginning, most men would come in and either ignore me and talk to my male co-worker or ask me directly to talk to a man. I had to prove to them that I knew as much – even more – than my male counterparts, when it came to the tire business. It was even a challenge working in an all- male garage to get the respect that I deserve. It took many months for my co-workers to see me as equal, and up to a year for my male customers to even trust me with their needs. I had to work very hard every day to make sure that I was at the top of my game.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My mother has been the biggest influence on my career. She started her career at the same age as I was when I started. She has shown me what strength and leadership truly look like in this industry. She has been taking me to national conferences since I was 3 weeks old. It is always the highlight of my year to attend these conferences with her. She has influenced me to have a passion for the tire industry, but an even bigger passion to take care of those in our community. That's why I know the importance of doing good work, because we are directly impacting the lives of those around us.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment in this industry has been successfully hosting the Goodyear blimp to my local area. I oversaw the marketing and organization of the whole event. The best part of that time was successfully hosting 4,300 children to come tour the blimp in a little over five hours. This was a tremendous task, and one that required months of planning prior. Seeing those children's faces light up and their mouths drop to the ground in astonishment made the entire ordeal worth it. Most kids where I am from will never get to go on a vacation or really see anything as special as the Goodyear blimp. To bring such an icon to our little town was amazing. This accomplishment will forever be one of the things that I am most proud of.
If a friend expressed an interest in joining the industry, what advice would you give them?
If I had a friend who wanted to get in the industry, I would tell them that the best way to be successful is to start at the sales counter or in the shop. I believe it so important for people in the industry to truly understand what they are doing, what they are selling, and who their customers are. They need to go back in the shop, ask the mechanics what they are doing, unload the trucks, put their hands on the tires, and get to know the basics of vehicles. They need to talk to their customers, understand their backgrounds and what best fits their needs, not what you want to sell for incentives. Understand that the work you do directly impacts your community and you can make a difference in people’s lives.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now, I would like to be president of the company. I would like to see myself growing the company and expanding it regionally.
Aside from the basics like health insurance, what’s the most important perk/benefit an employer should offer?
The most important benefit an employer should offer besides healthcare is a retirement plan. I think it is very important for people to start preparing for their retirement as soon as possible.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
The biggest issue facing the tire industry is new technology. There is the talk of 3-D printed tires that never have to be changed. I always say that people are always going to have cars that will always need tires, but that could be very well change in the future.
Tell us about your family.
My mother, Fran, is president of Thompson Tire. My dad, Travis, owns and operates his construction company, Extreme Concrete and Construction. My younger brother, Matthew, is a junior in high school.
What’s the worst cliché or generalization made about your generation?
The worst generalization made about my generation is that we are lazy and expect everything to be handed to us. I go to college with people my age who are working two and three jobs to get themselves through school. I feel that my generation works very hard to fuel our economy and make a difference in our world. I think my generation is working hard at saving the planet and seeking fairness for those who deserve it. We might have the ease of technology that older generations did not have, but I think we are still working just as hard.
Name a talent you wish you had.
One talent I wish I had would be to be able to play a musical instrument. I used to take piano as a child but was never really good. I wish I had pursued it harder and been able to play music today.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite childhood memories was of my Pawpaw taking me to preschool every morning. I remember him taking me to Hardees every morning for hotcakes, while he drank coffee with his veteran friends. Then before school started, we would play hopscotch in the parking lot with gravels and the chalk he always kept in the back of his car.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I could have dinner with anyone I would like it to be Princess Diana. I have always loved her and everything she did for her people. I think she was truly one of the most exceptional people to have ever stepped into a position of power. I think her humanitarian work and the role model that she was for girls all over the world still impacts our society today. I would love to have a conversation with her to discuss her core beliefs, what matters most to her in the world, what she thinks of her boys now, and of course hear her side of the royal’s drama.
Do you live by a mantra or motto? If so, what is it?
I live by the motto, “Never put off tomorrow, what can be done today.”
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
Something about myself that others might not know is that I am an avid baker. Baking is one of my biggest passions.I love to try new recipes and learn new baking and cooking techniques in the kitchen.
What’s your go-to song for a road trip playlist?
My go-to song for a road trip would be “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. It always puts me in a good mood and is one of my favorites to sing along to.
If tomorrow you could move into any other position in your company, what would you choose, and why?
If I could move into any position in my company tomorrow, it would be president. I would like to be president of the company, so I could make some changes that I think the company needs.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
My favorite weekend activity would be baking and watching a good movie on the couch with my cats.
Who’s your role model?
My role model is my mother. She is the strongest person I know. She has always been my rock through tough times, my biggest supporter, and my mentor. I have seen her overcome so many difficult situations and come out stronger in the end.
If we gave you $1,000 and one hour, how would you spend the money?
If I had $1000 and one hour, I would spend that time and money by giving it back to my community. I would donate the money to my elementary school’s backpack buddy program so kids in local areas would have food to eat when they got home.
What advice would you give your high school self?
I would tell my high school self to not worry about what others think and not to try so hard to fit in. I would tell her that she is perfect the way that she is, and not to worry about being perfect, because there is no such thing.