On the Rise: Ari Thielman
General manager | G.T. Silver City Tire Co. Inc. | Age: 33
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was lube tech/tire tech trainee. I would assist the full-time technicians with oil changes and install new and used tires. When I was not learning from the technicians, I would be cleaning up, including emptying trash and used oil buckets.
What attracted you to the industry?
My father attracted me to the industry. My father worked for Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. for over 16 years before opening his own independent tire and auto repair shop in 1978.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my career is the growth of the internet. The growth of the internet has both helped us and hurt us at the same time. You can Google anything now and within seconds you have an answer. The internet has benefited us by offering the company built-in tire quoting that instantly gives the customer a complete quote. The website also allows the consumer to shop and book appointments 24 hours a day. The internet has hurt us by selling tires online. We no longer sell the consumer the tires; we just install their tires. The repair business has seen the same effect, both with online sales and parts stores checking engine lights. Parts stores are now checking your codes for free with a $30 scan tool in hopes you will buy the parts they tell you to buy. On the shop end, we spend thousands on scan tools and thousands yearly to keep them updated. We lose out on the part sale.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My father has had the biggest influence on my career. My father gave me my first job and current job. Everything I have learned about the tire industry was because of him.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment in the industry was working my way up from a simple lube tech to general manager. It took a long time to get from a lube tech to general manager. I had to learn many new roles that college does not teach you. I enjoy every day of it, though
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
My responsibilities include the inside office task of estimating repairs, quoting tires and inside operations of the company. If the shop is backed up, I will throw some coveralls on and help outside in the shop. This happens a lot during winter tire season.
What did you do before you entered the tire industry?
I have always been in the tire industry. I was born into it.
If a friend expressed an interest in joining the industry, what advice would you give them?
You either love it or hate it. There is no in-between in this industry. I would say be prepared for long hours and working weekends. However, at the end of the day, there’s no greater feeling than knowing that a customer’s car is rolling safe on the road again.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I expect to still be in the tire and automotive industry. Hopefully I will have taken over my father’s business by then. If not, I would like to be a regional manager for some independent tire store chain.
Aside from the basics like health insurance, what’s the most important perk/benefit an employer should offer?
Tuition reimbursement. You should learn something new every day. And bettering yourself for your company’s future should be rewarded.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
The biggest issues facing the tire industry are the internet, Internet tire sales, YouTube mechanics and online parts stores.
Tell us about your family.
I am single. I have one sister and a girlfriend.
What’s the worst cliché or generalization made about your generation?
We are lazy and can’t do anything without our cellphones or the Internet.
Name a talent you wish you had.
To know what people are thinking.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory would probably be getting my first go-karts and turning laps in my parents’ backyard.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I would have dinner with my Uncle Christopher, my mother’s brother, whom I never met. He died before I was born.
Do you live by a mantra or motto? If so, what is it?
Live everyday as it is your last.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
History was my favorite subject in school.
What’s your go-to song for a road trip playlist?
“Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts
If tomorrow you could move into any other position in your company, what would you choose, and why?
CEO. I would like to have more control on major decisions.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Going to Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday nights.
Who’s your role model?
If we gave you $1,000 and one hour, how would you spend the money?
Either on a snowmobile or a jet ski.
What advice would you give your high school self?
Listen to your parents and teachers.