On the Rise: Richie Howard
General Manager | Bruce's Tire Inc. | Age: 27
What was your first job in the industry?
I was raised cleaning our showrooms and restrooms but my first official job was as a general service tech at Bruce's Tire. I believe starting as a technician has helped me value, and respect every employee at Bruce's Tire and the hard work that it takes to accomplish our company’s goals.
What attracted you to the industry?
The main reason I originally was attracted to the industry was my family. Having the opportunity to become a fifth generation family member in the industry and put all my efforts towards my family’s business is extremely attractive to me. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had and the knowledge I have gained in the industry.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
As a small family business, we are met with many challenges. One of my biggest challenges is growing the company while also maintaining the family business culture that Bruce's Tire has always had. Although it is a tough challenge it is also crucial to our business, our employees and our customers. I believe it is part of what separates Bruce's Tire from much of our competition. The other biggest challenge I have faced is taking a company that has been in business since 1936, and adapting to all the constant changes we face in our industry.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My father Richard Howard has definitely had the biggest influence on my life and career. He became president of Bruce's Tire in 1989 and has since grown the business tremendously in revenue and locations. He is extremely active with the California Tire Dealers Association and currently is chairman of the Independent Tire Dealers Group. My father is a major reason why I decided to join our family business and why I enjoy it every day.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My proudest accomplishment in the industry is becoming general manager of Bruce's Tire at age 24. At the time I was managing our highest volume store and I could not imagine leaving the store for someone else to manage. Now I am involved with every aspect of our business and continue to learn and grow.
How do you spend your work day?
As the general manager of a small family business I wear many hats and try to involve myself with every aspect of the company. Primarily I am directly involved with processes and procedures, financials, quotas and goals, employees and operations.
What keeps you up at night?
Two things keep me up night. I usually wake up from my 3-month old daughter, whether she’s hungry or fussy. But what keeps me up is thinking about my current projects at work, and my to do list that I need to accomplish.
Early bird or night owl?
Definitely an early bird. I am usually up by 4 or 5 a.m. but in bed by 9 p.Mm. Getting up early helps me plan my day, go over my goals, and come up with ideas to implement at Bruce's Tire.
Messy or neat freak?
I would love to say a neat freak but I think my wife would say I am messy.
Growing up, what was your dream job?
Growing up I wanted to become a business owner. My family has been in the industry four generations and I envisioned a similar path for myself.
Tell us about your family.
Family is extremely important to me. My entire family has tires in their blood. Both of my grandfathers were in the tire industry as well as my father and uncle. My wife has become accustomed to the long hours and the grease that comes along with being in the industry and running a family business. She constantly is asking me, "How do you always come home from work with your hands so dirty?" Personally, I think they are permanently marked with tire grease. My wife Nikol and I were married just over a year ago and we just had our first child in July and are enjoying being new parents.
Describe your first car and what you loved most about it.
I loved my first car. It was a 2002 Chevy Monte Carlo with black leather seats. Of course as a young high school student I had to put chrome 18" wheels and a LOUD sound system.
What advice would you give your high school self?
I would tell my high school self to try harder in sports. As a child and my early years in high school I always gave it 100%. As I grew older and started working I started losing interest in some of the sports I was playing and was more interested in a paycheck. Now I am constantly working and although I love what I do, I miss the days of playing sports.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I can think of a lot of people that I would love having dinner with but I would have to say Bruce Halle or Les Schwab. What they have both built in our industry is extremely impressive. I would love to hear about their thoughts and comments on the industry today and where they think it is going. With all the constant change we are seeing I think it would be astonishing to hear their opinions.
Best way to spend a Saturday night: out on the town or home alone binge watching shows? (or something else)
Both. My wife and I love trying new and good food. We live five minutes from our downtown area and love walking downtown for a drink and dinner. I wouldn't say we are ‘out on the town’ because we typically will be home by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
What’s your secret superpower?
I have two secret superpowers. The first one is my family. They help motivate me and help me succeed. The second is coffee. Coffee also helps me stay motivated and succeed.
How should the tire industry attract and retain more young talent?
I think the tire industry needs to become as employee friendly as possible. The more benefits we show our employees for being in the industry and working for our company the more they are going to reward us with hard work and passion.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now I hope to have built Bruce's Tire up to a more successful and profitable company.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
Technology and lack of interest from the millennial generation. I think there are less and less young people interested in the industry. I also believe technology will drastically change our industry in the next 20 years.
If you could spend a day supporting a charity, what would you do?
A golf sponsorship sounds like a great way to support a charity.