On the Rise: Matt Wilson
Sales manager and shop technician | Wilson’s Direct Inc. dba Wilson’s Direct Motors & Tires | Age: 31
What was your first job in the industry?
As the sole employee backed by my older brother, my first job was everything but bookkeeping which was done by my sister-in-law. It was definitely a crash course but helped me rapid-learn every aspect of the tire business.
What attracted you to the industry?
I can't say I was particularly attracted to the industry as much as the industry sucked me in. I helped my older brother run a very small auto dealership, and we happened to be conveniently located in an old automotive shop. With a huge market and no competition, locals were forced to travel to buy tires or be forced to pay high prices. So after many request, we started to sell tires.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
The unknown! Being green in the tire business, it took lots of research to get things done. Thousands of hours on the phone, on the internet, and talking with guys in the area with tire business experience. It was humbling though to follow a tire purchase from distribution clear through sale, install, and then off to a recycle center.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My dad, by far. He has owned his own business for many years so that drive to be successful was instilled inside me. That desire to treat customers as you would want to be treated was there.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Well it's not only my accomplishment but my brother’s as well. My older brother Rob, who is the business owner and technical support, has been a huge help. But my younger brother Terry, who joined us on the ground level when things got too much for one guy to handle, has been a huge part of the $500,000 is sales business we have created in under three years. We have become the go-to tire shop in northeast Kansas. We have drawn customers all over Kansas, Southern Nebraska and Western Missouri, as well as shipped tires across the country. We take a lot of pride in the two-man show that treats every customer like family.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I would love to have secondary locations opened up and regionally manage them.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Online sales. The online market is cutting the throats of the tire stores. Luckily they don't have a large enough piece of the pie… yet!
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Just how vast it was. I knew nothing about tires before getting in the business three years ago. I had no idea how much there was to know.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
Jump in! Find someone who truly enjoys the business and get under their wing. There is much you can learn on your own but a good mentor is key!
Tell us about your family.
I am happily married to my wife, Sharon. We have four wonderful children. Makaela who is 11, Korban who is 9, Lexi who is 7, and Kaden is 2. They are very busy kids so I catch myself coming and going more times than not. But they are totally worth it! And I sure wouldn't be able to do it without the help of my wife. She is the organized one.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Watching my kids compete in their respective activities or just relaxing around a fire in the backyard with friends.
What keeps you up at night?
The quiet. Late at night is the only time my wife and I can catch our breath.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I went to college on a yell leading scholarship.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Mountain Dew and Reese's.
Name a talent you wish you had.
The ability to say no. I find myself volunteering time I don't have.
What’s your favorite food?
More like what's not my favorite. If I had to pick one thing though, it would be sushi. Probably because I don't get the chance to have it enough.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I think it would have to be Chuck Yeager. I did a report on him in school and just was so fascinated with how he lived his life. I think it would be an interesting dinner.
If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?
As long as it took me to get my wallet out. Because of work and kids, this phone rarely leaves my hands.