On the Rise: Luis Navarro
Vice president of operations and sales for Central Mexico | TERSA Corp. | Age: 33
What was your first job in the industry?
I started in the retread plant. Since my background was in engineering I was invited to take over the retread operation. It was a great way to enter into the tire industry because you get to know the technical details.
What attracted you to the industry?
My wife! She is a shareholder in the family business, and her dad is the founder and owner. However, I have always been attracted to motorsports, especially off-road races in Baja, so it was not hard for me to feel right at home. Also the fact that the tire business model has not been modified or disrupted for many years, and that represented an opportunity to innovate and try to shape the way for a tire distributor.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Integrating acquired stores in new territories. Entering new states and territories where our name was unknown and integrating the stores bought into our company DNA. The people factor is always the hardest part, making sure we had the right people in the right jobs with the right focus to face the always challenging conditions that businesses face in the era of constant change.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Rodrigo Valle, who is the president and owner of Tersa tires. He has not only showed me the ropes of the tire business but also business acumen, leadership, character, and above all, the passion for the industry.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
So far I think that my biggest accomplishment is in redefining our business model, especially in retail. We do wholesale, commercial, and retail. It’s still a work in progress given that every year new technologies, trends, forms of marketing, niches and channels to reach customers appear. Integrating technology to enhance the customer experience but at the same time giving the tire shop feeling that the customer still expects from a tire shop and purchasing process is important.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
With so many changes these days it’s hard to think more than five years ahead. Being that I will be 53, I hope to still be very productive as the head of Tersa as well as an international player in our industry with a very smart and creative business model that evolves with time. Maybe cars will fly by then so we will be selling replacement car propulsion engines and landing gears, or maybe we will be selling rubber cartridges for 3D tire printers. Whatever the future may bring I expect to be a major player in the markets we participate. I hope it still involves tires, I love the smell.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Distraction or lack of focus. In today’s business environment there is a lot of information, trends, and data. I think there is anxiety about possible disruptions and who is the “Uber” of the tire business.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Spend as much time possible in sales before or at the beginning of a new position. Negotiate a month of spending time with the sales force before officially taking on the new territory, job, or position. Spending time with the sales crew will let you know the reason for the business, and will put you in contact with the customers/end users to understand where the pain points are. So before you start working on what you think needs to be done, spend some time making sure you really understand what needs to be addressed.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
There are a lot of “pain” issues when it comes to the customers of our industry that are not fully addressed. The way we do business has not changed in many years. Proper car and tire maintenance for ecological and personal productivity, among other reasons, are still very important. So I encourage others to help us push and shape this industry and keep redefining a business model that incorporates the new and really addresses the “pains” of the customer when she has to deal with tire and care maintenance issues.
Tell us about your family.
I have been married for six years to my childhood neighbor and high school sweetheart. We have two very cool boys, Luis who is 3, Alvaro who is 1 and a daughter who is on the way, which we are expecting in November. We used to live in the Tijuana-San Diego region but a year ago we moved to Guadalajara, central Mexico, to expand the business. Moving to another city far from family and friends has been a very enriching experience making our family closer and allowing us to appreciate what we have and what we want.
My wife is a beautiful, smart, and centered person. She is the best show runner and makes me feel that she has my back and I have hers. She makes sure the house, kids, and family activities are done. In addition, she is starting her own house organizing blog and business. Our goal as a family is to be “awesome-er” every time. Awesome as a couple by the way we mix personal, marriage, and social time, awesome in the way we raise our kids and enjoy them. Awesome in the activities we engage in and the way we drive our family to where we want to go in our family life plan.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Being outdoors with the family and friends. Enjoying every minute with my kids and wife, and sometimes some personal time.
What keeps you up at night?
Being a good husband and father, being smart and savvy so we can be financially independent down the road.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I really like to read books, and I’m probably considered a book worm. I read anything from business, novels, biographies, magazines, etc. The last book I read was “Entrepreneurial Insanity in the Tire Industry” by Roger McManus.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Once in a while spending alone time.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Speaking more languages.
What’s your favorite food?
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
From the industry, Bruce Halle from Discount Tire. Outside the industry it would be Elon Musk.
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?
If I have still have access to an old-fashioned phone or land line, I guess I would consider paying the ransom after one week. However, for my laptop I would pay the next day!