On the Rise: Michael Devers
Store Manager | Wilson Tire Co. | Age: 39
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was selling tires. I was selling electronics at a national retailer when I sold the manager of Wilson Tire at the time a stereo system. He was impressed with my selling skills and offered me a job a few days later. I’ve been here ever since.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was young and wanted to learn something new, the pay was good (lots of hours), and I liked the idea of working on cars.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Training. It is hard to find training in this industry. The tire manufacturers only want to teach you how to sell tires, and don't seem to care about the correct application or appropriate fitment. I spent a few years trying to research industry standards and wondered why some cars had certain speed ratings and load indexes. Thankfully, I found the Tire Industry Association (TIA) “train the trainer” program and signed up.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I would have to say Mark Pollard, the owner of Wilson Tire. He has pushed me when I needed pushing, but also allows room to grow.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment is becoming a TIA Certified Instructor. It has helped make Wilson Tire a better company overall, and has allowed me to become a teacher, and give something back to the industry. Once a year, I even visit the Hartford Area Career and Tech Center to teach the auto tech class about the ins and outs of the tire industry.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
I am the store manager of our Lebanon location -- we have three locations total -- and a TIA Certified instructor. I am responsible for sales, customer service, employee training, and the overall running of the store.
What did you do before you entered the tire industry?
I sold electronics at our local Walmart.
If a friend expressed an interest in joining the industry, what advice would you give them?
Once you enter the tire industry, it’s hard to leave.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
More than likely still schlepping tires and helping customers.
Aside from the basics like health insurance, what’s the most important perk/benefit an employer should offer?
Time off. This business can beat you up pretty hard. It’s nice to have some time off for some rest and relaxation.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
Training, or the lack of. We see all kinds of auto shops and dealerships selling and installing the incorrect tires on their customers’ vehicles. It is a real disservice to customers and makes it harder for shops that do it the correct way.
What’s the worst cliché or generalization made about your generation?
I am 39 years old, and I always remember people calling us, “slackers”, but I think our generation is that last of the hard workers, still putting in 40-plus hour work weeks, and doing whatever it takes to make ends meet.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I could play a musical instrument. It’s something that has eluded me.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Lazy summer days, playing and swimming in the White River. It was just across the street from our house. We used to jump off the bridge and play in the rapids. It was the epitome of lazy summers!
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Keith Moon, from the Who. I think we’d get kicked out of the restaurant for blowing up the toilets!
Do you live by a mantra or motto? If so, what is it?
You only get what you put into it. Life isn’t a free-for-all.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I like old-school sailor tattoos but am scared to death of deep water.
What’s your go-to song for a road trip playlist?
Anything off of The Who’s “Who’s Next” album.
If tomorrow you could move into any other position in your company, what would you choose, and why?
I would just like to be the trainer. I love to teach, and I love teaching about tires!
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
My wife and I like exploring old cemeteries. The artwork on the stones is really neat.
What advice would you give your high school self?
Trust your gut and stop second guessing yourself.