On the Rise: Chuck Flannagan
Manager of Marketing and Events | Continental Tire the Americas LLC | Age: 37
What was your first job in the industry?
I started in the industry when I came on board at Continental three years ago, though I've been around motor sports and the automotive industry since the fall of 2004.
What attracted you to the industry?
The stability of working for a major manufacturer, the global footprint of the organization, and the opportunity to grow were and remain enormous factors for me. With a young family, I really value the opportunity to grow and advance, along with the long-term stability of remaining in one place.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I experienced my first down-sizing and lay off about five years ago. With a young family, the impact was enormous. Being in the corporate world, you're bound to experience through those at some point, but regardless of when they come, they're difficult.
Maintaining your personal values in the midst of hardship and challenge is and will remain a challenge for all of us. The challenge propelled me to Charlotte, which has led to the sweetest season of my personal and professional life.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Without question, my first manager in racing, Greg Walter has been the biggest influence in my career. As a young, hungry sales person, he gave me the boundaries in which to operate but also the freedom to make mistakes. He was a great example to me of how to manage, and I try to be the manager he is, every day. He remains a great influence and mentor in my career to this day. He's now the general manager at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and we're now a partner of theirs, so the relationship has come full-circle.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I'm very proud of our team here at Continental. We host more than 15,000 people annually on behalf of our organization. In addition to all of our sponsorship programs where we host guests at sporting events, our team hosts and plans all of our sales conferences, customer drive and learns and product launches. To say we're busy is an understatement. But, we do our best every day to prepare world-class events for our customers, both internal and external. We've been fortunate enough to receive high marks consistently from our customers in every environment we entertain in. So now the challenge is to keep it up!
How do you spend your work day?
I manage event marketing, customer hosting and sponsorships for Continental Tire in the U.S. That means that my team and I are responsible for all customer hosting and marketing activation in the U.S. at sporting events, product launches and trade shows for both the Continental and General brands. Over the course of the year we have responsibility for hosting more than 15,000 guests at various events. The best days are onsite at events working alongside our colleagues to deliver great events that represent our world-class brands and engaging with existing and potential customers through our activations.
What keeps you up at night?
The ever-existing tension of being the best husband, dad, friend, manager, team member, employee.
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird for sure. I’m awake most every morning by 5:30. Hopefully catching an early work out with F3 Nation or enjoying some morning quiet time over a Paul David Tripp book.
Messy or neat freak?
It depends on who you ask. My kids would say I’m a stickler for neatness. My wife and teammates would say I’m messy. I suppose the truth is somewhere in between.
Growing up, what was your dream job?
I was raised a St. Louis Cardinal fan, and I had the good fortune early in my career to work for them for four seasons in their minor league group. I always wanted to run the Cardinals. In my dreams, I’m their GM and John Mozeliak (current team president) is my mentor.
Tell us about your family.
I married my best friend 13 years ago. She’s a brilliant marketer and small business consultant who also founded a non-denominational ministry earlier this year for women in Charlotte. We’re blessed with two boys and a girl, who are 9, 6 and 2.
Describe your first car and what you loved most about it.
Nothing!! Ha-ha. I got my first car when my grandmother quit driving. It was a 1982 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It ran, drove and smelled like a grandmother’s car.
What advice would you give your high school self?
I’m borrowing a phrase from Marcus Luttrell, but “empty your cup.” Pour out everything you have into this life and into other people so that when it’s done, you will have served well and loved well. Don’t spend one more day only pouring out a portion of who you are.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
There’s a ton of meat on this bone for me. I’ve got too many to narrow it very well, but here’s a few for starters: Tim Keller, Marcus Luttrell, George H.W. Bush, Clint Bruce and Henry Ford.
Best way to spend a Saturday night: out on the town or home alone binge watching shows? (or something else)
Enjoying a nice tall bourbon with my wife and some close friends is the optimal weekend evening for me.
What song do you crank up loud and always sing along to?
Rocky Top, by the Osborne Brothers of course, and Free by Zac Brown Band.
What habit do you wish you could break?
Sweating the small stuff. Major on the majors and minor on the minors.
What’s your secret superpower?
I’m a (self-appointed) world-class smoker and consumer of smoked meats.
What game show would you most likely win?
“Who wants to be a millionaire?” I’m full of useless information as my wife and kids remind me frequently.
If we gave you $1,000 and one hour, how would you spend the money?
I’d split it into thirds and give a third to Young Life, save a third and then take my wife out to Barrington’s in Charlotte with the remainder.
How should the tire industry attract and retain more young talent?
Continue to innovate. As an industry, we have been and will continue to be transactional by default, but business is done through relationships. That must be true within our own businesses as well. We can’t do the same things repeatedly and expect different results. Invest in your people and develop your talent. They’ll return in spades by growing your businesses.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Professionally, I expect I’ll continue to be focused on identifying marketing partnerships and opportunities for growth for brands. Personally, I expect to be living somewhere in South Charlotte (or nearby), investing in kids through the ministry of Young Life and trying to date my wife well.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
The biggest issue facing the industry is moving past the archaic way of doing business. While so many of our ‘consumer decisions’ are made at the retail counter with sales people, the way of the future is innovation with the millennial generation. We can’t rest in ‘the way it’s always been’ or we as an industry will be left behind by the increasingly mobile world. Tires are a necessary commodity, but how consumers interact with that commodity is up to us. The way we innovate and attack the challenge of consumer engagement will influence to a large degree what happens with individual brands over the next generation.
If you could spend a day supporting a charity, what would you do?
I’d spend a day hanging with high school friends through the ministry of Young Life, which is something near and dear to my wife and me.
If you could start a new career tomorrow, what would it be?
I’d be the chief customer service officer for hire by anyone. I think we’ve lost our ability largely in the business world to remember the impact of human interaction. Smile at people. Be nice. Remember that you are a reflection of the brand on your shirt/business card. That’s what makes Chick-fil-A so special. They value the person first, then, they sell them chicken. Creating brand loyalty is largely impacted by the story we create with each consumer. That’s why my job is the best in the world! I help influence a consumer’s impression of our brands by creating interactive onsite stories at events.