On the Rise: Christy Lewis
Outside account manager | American Tire Distributors Inc. | Age: 30
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the tire industry was as a retail merchandising and training specialist. I worked in the corporate channel, training sales associates on tire basics, five steps to a tire sale, and helped merchandise show rooms.
What attracted you to the industry?
When I graduated from college in 2009, the job market was dismal at best. I began a retail job in management at Sears Holdings Corp. and quickly realized it was not the job for me. After searching for a career change for two-and-a-half years, I came across an entry level customer service position at ATD. Although I had no background or experience in the tire business besides a few shifts working in the Sears Auto Center, I decided it was worth a try. I interviewed with two fantastic managers who assured me I could learn the ins and outs of the business, but an excellent work ethic and resilient attitude are imperative. They took a chance on me and I grew to love the job, company, and industry. Four-and-a-half years later I am now working with independent tire dealers to improve their businesses, and I couldn't be happier.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenge I face is being a younger female in a predominately male-oriented industry. Not only am I still considered a rookie in an industry where most business owners have been around for 30-plus years, but I am also a minority gender that often is not taken seriously. Convincing a veteran of the business to be open to my suggestions and recommendations is a daily struggle; however, I find it to be a challenge that motivates me to change those stereotypes and the way women are perceived in the automotive industry.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
A coworker of mine, Pat Sheridan, has had the biggest influence on my career so far. As an incredibly successful industry veteran, Pat is a humble and patient teacher and colleague. He has always been a resource for day-to-day business related topics as well as career and personal subjects. I owe so much of my success to him and his willingness to help a rookie.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment in the tire industry thus far is the role I play as a board member of the Western Pennsylvania Tire Dealers Association. I organized educational and networking events for independent tire dealers in our market and have learned a great deal along the way. As a younger member, I was commissioned to change the culture of the association by recruiting a new generation of members that will play a role in the tire business in the future. In just over a year’s time, I have not only increased membership as a whole, but recruited dozens of next generation tire industry professionals. I'm looking forward to continued growth and cultural change in years to come.