On the Rise: Justin Chalk
Vice President of Product Management for TireMaster GTX | ASA Automotive Systems Inc. | Age: 35
What was your first job in the industry?
I started out as an application support consultant supporting tire industry software in Australia at the age of 19.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was initially attracted to the technology side of the business. I soon grew to understand and love the SME aspect of being hands-on, helping guide major changes in peoples’ businesses. The no-nonsense attitude that the industry brings is constantly refreshing and a challenge I enjoy every day.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
I have had the opportunity and privilege to deliver tire business solutions across Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and North America. By far, the pace, size and maturity of the North American market provides endless challenges. Being responsible for maturing the TireMaster GTX product to the North American market in the areas of accounting, taxation and legislation, manufacturing, partnerships and supply chain interfaces has been an enormously demanding and ultimately rewarding challenge.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
The founder of Megabus Software, Jeff Malley, an icon of the industry who placed the first computerized point-of-sale machine into a tire store in 1979. Jeff had a profound influence on my belief and understanding of the industry and small/medium enterprises. I recall my earliest interactions with him instilling in me that computers are of no use without applications. If only we had invented the app store!
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
The continued steady growth and scale year-on-year for both our business and my personal experiences for me is a great achievement. To see my family grow and travel the globe in an industry that really cares about its own is a reward for me.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
I run the TireMaster GTX division of ASA Automotive Systems, which has over the past 24 months established a real alternative choice for the North American tire and auto market, servicing owners of retail, wholesale, commercial and retread facilities. I am responsible for executing the strategic growth of the division, where no two days are the same. My typical day involves a run or visit to the gym in the early morning, a good coffee and then a scheduled check-in with one of my great team leads in areas of sales, R&D, services, and support. Typically there would be a significant part of my day interacting with clients, future clients and industry partners. In the evenings I would typically spend a couple of hours performing clerical work, planning the next day and catching up with our global team.
What did you do before you entered the tire industry?
I worked for Océ Australia as a systems administrator. Océ is a leading global manufacturer of wide format and digital print solutions.
If a friend expressed an interest in joining the industry, what advice would you give them?
Get out there and shake some hands and listen well. The tire industry is full of people who pour their heart and soul into their businesses.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
In 20 years, I hope to look back and have grown business so that hundreds of employees can make a living and enjoy what they do day in and out as much as I do.
Aside from the basics like health insurance, what’s the most important perk/benefit an employer should offer?
I think flexibility around time and more outcome-based work practice is one of the most important benefits that can energize an employee and the workplace. Through different stages of my life, my ideal clock-on/clock-off times have been literally around the clock. The flexibility provided by my employer in my roles allowed me to not only satisfy the job requirement but excel.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
The biggest challenge I see in the tire industry continues to be strategic labor management and retention. From technicians and mechanics through sales to warehouse and store management. The businesses that I come across that can identify and maintain strategic operating procedures and can capture the value of the customer in each step of their experience stand out to me as workplaces that also fare better in areas of staff development and retention. They have a learning culture and a passion for process improvement and using data in the business to drive decision making and educate staff on their contribution and value, therefore, creating opportunities for staff to excel by feeding back into the learning loop.
Tell us about your family.
My wife, Edwina, and I have two young children, Annabelle and Harry. We also have a pet dog, Mala. In the last 12 months, we moved to Boise, Idaho, from Melbourne, Australia. While we miss our family and friends dearly, we are so happy to have landed in a great city. We love the outdoors nature of the town and its people and are really looking forward to a White Christmas!
What’s the worst cliché or generalization made about your generation?
Millennials are lazy.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I would love to be able to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Family holidays to Mallacoota, Australia. We would caravan to this beautiful town with a saltwater inlet on the near coastal border of Victoria and New South Wales. My brother, sister and I would spend days fishing, boating, skiing, body surfing and playing cricket. Nights were spent prawning, playing cards and spending such valuable time with Mum, Dad, and my Grandparents.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Nothing famous for me; just another night with close ones dear, eating grandma’s roast lamb would be priceless.
Do you live by a mantra or motto? If so, what is it?
I think the beauty of mottos and mantras are that you can always change your motto. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, I am realizing the power in letting go of the finer details and trusting the whole rather than the sum of the parts.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
In each decade of my life, I have won an Easter egg competition by guessing the correct number of chocolate eggs in a jar
What’s your go-to song for a road trip playlist?
Anything by Paul Kelly
If tomorrow you could move into any other position in your company, what would you choose, and why?
I would be very grateful to grow into managing multiple business lines, as it would mean that my team has matured out to be able to command a great, ongoing business.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Anytime with the kids. Heading to the park, swimming, grabbing an ice cream, watching cartoons - all the important things in life
Who’s your role model?
Jeff Malley has been a great influence on my professional life, explained in earlier email.
What advice would you give your high school self?
Either way, your hair is going to fall out!