A Young, 'On the Rise' Tire Dealer Shatters Stereotypes
“Young people these days - harrumph!” Ever catch yourself saying - or thinking - this? Even at the age of 46, I sometimes do. (I must be getting old!)
You’ve heard all the cliches about young people: unmotivated, self-interested, spoiled, “just coasting through life,” and probably dozens more.
Before this issue of MTD went to press, I had the opportunity to speak with a young man who shatters all of those tired, old stereotypes. And he’s doing so on a daily basis.
His name is Brandon Johnson. At 26 years of age, he’s the general manager of Eagle Tire Pros, a single-location, independent tire dealership in Jacksboro, Tenn.
Brandon first came to our attention several years ago through our “On the Rise” program, which celebrates young people in our industry who are doing extraordinary things.
We sometimes call them “young superstars” and Brandon is exactly that.
“I’m a fourth-generation tire guy,” he says proudly. “My dad started Eagle Tire Pros around 25 years ago. My grandfather is still in the industry. And my great-grandfather built Uniroyal tires. Growing up, I was always around the shop.”
Do you know a young superstar in the industry? Invite them to submit their name to On the Rise!
He also is forging his own path running the day-to-day operations of a busy dealership that services thousands of vehicles a year.
“I handle just about every aspect of the business - from budgeting and forecasting to sales predictions, inventory management, customer relations, human resources, fleet solicitations and more,” Brandon told me.
“I’m involved in everything we do as a shop, which is a lot. That’s what makes this industry so much fun. There’s always some kind of challenge.”
And there’s always someone to help, he adds.
“To me, that’s the biggest thing. Not long ago, I had a lady in our store who would buy one cheap tire here and one cheap tire there. We had been working with her and one day she came in and said, ‘I blew out another tire.’
“I said, ‘Let’s take care of you. I have a really good tire here. It’s on the house. Take it and come see us again when you’re ready to buy a full set.’”
The customer, who had been struggling financially, hugged Brandon and began to cry. “She was so thankful she had someone she could depend on,” he says.
“More recently, we had a gentleman come in who was on his way to meet his 21 grandkids. His tires blew out, the wheels had blown off his trailer - his vehicle was in rough shape. We got two or three techs on it and got him back on the road so he could see his grandkids.
“He later told us, ‘This was the first time in eight years that my grandkids and I were able to see one another. You got us back on the road when nobody else could. You saved this special memory for me.’
“That’s what we’re here to do,” says Brandon.
He admits there are challenges to being a 26-year-old in the tire industry. Some customers underestimate him.
“Being young, people don’t always want to trust you when you say, ‘Your transmission died’ or “I know you just bought a new set of 20-inch tires but your car’s front end is worn out.’ The best way to overcome that is to be honest. Once you earn their trust, you can build a great relationship.
“There are so many opportunities,” he enthuses. “This is what the American dream is all about. Being part of a family business that passes down from one generation to another, being able to make a difference - it makes you proud of what you do.”
That's the kind of "can-do" spirit, pride, work ethic, optimism and customer service that make young tire industry leaders so remarkable.
If you know of a young superstar who would be an excellent candidate for MTD’s “On the Rise” program, let me know.
We’re planning to celebrate this year’s crop in our November issue.
I suspect there are probably hundreds of young movers and shakers like Brandon whom we have not met yet. We can’t wait to hear about them!
If you have any questions or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.