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Dealer-inspired program prepares the next generation of managers, owners

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Dealer-inspired program prepares the next generation of managers, owners

Northwood University has introduced Tire Leadership 21, an educational program aimed at developing leadership, management and business skills for the next generation of tire dealer managers and owners.

Tire Leadership 21 gives retail and commercial dealers a way to develop the executives who will lead their businesses in the future, according to Stu Zurcher, president of 20-group operator Strategic Alliance Group and one of the industry veterans behind the creation of the program.

“This program addresses the tire dealer's biggest problem. He wants to grow, and he needs people more than anything else,” says Zurcher. In early 2013, Zurcher assembled a group of tire dealers who collaborated with Northwood University to create Tire Leadership 21. The group became the Center for Tire & Service Education (CTSE), an independent organization which advises Northwood University on all aspects of Tire Leadership 21’s marketing and content.

“I consider my store managers owners themselves,” says Rich Brahler, a founding member of the CTSE Advisory Board and owner and president of Brahler’s Truckers Supply Inc. in Jacksonville, Ill. His company has seven commercial locations and one retreading plant in Illinois and Missouri.

“I’ve got great techs and great salespeople who developed into good managers but they don’t know the financial side of the business. They don’t know how the decision they make right now will impact them in six months. They have to see the bigger picture. This is my biggest challenge to grow. It’s not bricks and mortar. I’ve invested in trucks, equipment and training, but we do very little to take the young people in my business and make them great managers and great leaders.” Brahler says Tire Leadership 21 will “show our key people that we truly want to build them up as much as we build the business. I want to build a team that doesn’t need me.”

Historically there has been nowhere to send a potential store manager to learn the in-depth skills it takes to efficiently manage a tire and service facility, says Kim Sigman, partner and manager of Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair of Phoenix, Ariz., and a founding member of the CTSE Advisory Board. “This is a university-level education program geared directly to the tire and service business that will elevate all independents and allow them to thrive.” Sigman says his partner’s son will attend Tire Leadership 21.

The program covers topics that are essential to the success of future independent tire dealer managers and owners, according to Brian Cruickshank, program director. Faculty for Tire Leadership 21 will come from Northwood’s DeVos Graduate School of management and subject-matter experts from the tire and service industries. Subjects to be covered include finance, accounting, business strategy, management, corporate vision, marketing and social media and team and corporate culture.

“One of the keys to long-term growth and success is continuity of management,” says Mike McGee, president of McGee Tire Stores Inc. in Lakeland, Fla., and a founding member of the CTSE Advisory Board. “That continuity has to come from employees who are engaged and invested in that business. They have to see a career, not just a job. When they see that long-term opportunity, their positive attitude and excitement drive the entire staff.”

The program is designed for management-potential, management-track or current management professionals in a tire service environment. There are no formal educational prerequisites.

The program consists of a pair of one-week, on-campus sessions. The first session will be held April 14-18 at Northwood’s campus in Midland, Mich. Participants will reconvene Sept. 7-12 at Northwood’s campus in West Palm Beach, Fla.  Between the two sessions, participants will be required to complete an individual project that must deliver $25,000 in annual additional revenue or savings to their employers.

Northwood University is a fully accredited, private, non-profit business university that specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education. The Tire Leadership 21 program will be managed through Northwood's University of the Aftermarket continuing and executive education unit. The 2014 program will be limited to 30 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost, which includes tuition, meals and class materials, is $5,995. Discounts are available for tire dealers sending more than one participant to the program. Contact program director Brian Cruickshank ( for details.

To register for Tire Leadership 21, visit or call 1-800-551-2882.

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