On the Rise: Patrice Fitte
Manager, Distribution & Operations Planning | Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 36
What was your first job in the industry?
Manager of distribution and operations planning
What attracted you to the industry?
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. attracted me to the tire industry. I was attracted to Cooper because of the company’s long great history and reputation for making high quality tires. Cooper is also well known as a community partner and that is very important to me as well.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenge I have faced in my career has been managing diverse groups of people at a young age. Also, often times I was new to the company and a few times, even the industry. I overcame those challenges by earning the respect and trust of my team and gaining knowledge of the operations.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My college professor who introduced me to supply chain and encouraged me to start working for a transportation company my freshman year. If it were not for him, I would not be where I am today because I probably would not have taken a career path in supply chain.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment in the tire industry was my contribution to the launch of Cooper's AT3 tire line earlier this year. I am proud that my team was able to contribute to such an important product launch for Cooper Tire.
How do you spend your work day?
I am responsible for all aspects of Cooper Tire’s distribution operations in Texarkana, Ark. This includes, but is not limited to, shipping tires to Cooper facilities and customers. I am also responsible for inventory management, budget planning and control, staffing, monitoring trailer pools, managing storage trailers and outside storage facilities, and monitoring shipments.
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking about the future keeps me up at night.
Early bird or night owl?
Messy or neat freak?
Growing up, what was your dream job?
Growing up I wanted to be a teacher.
Tell us about your family.
I am from a very close-knit family. Growing up my grandmother cooked dinner every Sunday for our entire family, she had nine children with my grandfather. They were married for 70 years before she passed away in 2017. My grandparents taught me the importance of a strong foundation and family. I am married with three amazing step children and a little girl on the way, due at the end of October.
Describe your first car and what you loved most about it.
My first car was a red Geo Storm. I just loved that at 16 I had my own car and could go places without my parents taking me.
What advice would you give your high school self?
Take more college courses while in high school. When I graduated high school, I had around 24 college credits, but I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity to start college with even more credits.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
My grandmother who passed away in 2017. She was diagnosed with dementia around 2012. My grandmother was so smart, despite the fact that she did not finish high school or have any formal education. She was a wealth of knowledge and wisdom and if I had the opportunity I would love one more dinner with her to pick her brain about life.
Best way to spend a Saturday night: out on the town or home alone binge watching shows?
Home alone binge watching shows.
What song do you crank up loud and always sing along to?
Anything by Beyonce, she is one of my favorite artists.
What habit do you wish you could break?
I love reality TV and my husband thinks it is so bad to watch because of the drama, but I just can’t help it.
What’s your secret superpower?
My gift of persuasion.
What game show would you most likely win?
Family Feud, I love that show.
If we gave you $1,000 and one hour, how would you spend the money?
I would invest the money, buy stock.
How should the tire industry attract and retain more young talent?
It is important to reach talent early. Cooper is a member of the National Association of Manufacturers’ and Manufacturing Institute’s Dream It. Do It. Program, which seeks to change perceptions about working in the manufacturing industry and inspire students to pursue manufacturing careers. We connect with students to share this message through outreach from our Dream Team, a group of early-career employees that works hands-on with students. I serve as a caption of our Texarkana Dream Team. Our main goals are to share with youth the potential careers in manufacturing, change the perception of careers in manufacturing, and provide knowledge about the industry to parents, teachers and school counselors.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now, I hope that I will be preparing for my retirement from Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.
What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
I think the biggest issue facing the tire industry is the same issue facing many industries, labor shortages. This includes finding entry level employees, skilled trade workers, and drivers to transport product.
If you could spend a day supporting a charity, what would you do?
I have always wanted to do Habitat for Humanity. I love putting things together and I think that would be a great way to help a family in need.
If you could start a new career tomorrow, what would it be?
Honestly, I could not imagine starting a new career. I love working in supply chain.