On the Rise: Nick Gutierrez
Western region sales manager | Sentury Tire Americas | Age: 33
What was your first job in the industry?
The summer after high school I went straight into the call center at American Racing Equipment in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. I stayed in the wheel industry for 13 years and have now been with Sentury Tire USA for three-plus years.
What attracted you to the industry?
My freshman year in high school I worked and saved enough money to buy a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle, which I fixed up and sold for a profit a year later. I said to myself, ‘this is fun,’ and I got to meet a lot of great business owners in the process of fixing up my VW.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
A lot of people say age is just a number, and I agree it really is. Getting past my age and presenting to senior managers and senior marketing teams out-of-the-box ideas and different approaches in sales and marketing. I was 17-and-a-half when I entered this industry and I enjoy it every day!
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
There are many, but the two I continue to owe it to is Paul Bethel and Max Wee. Paul, director of sales and distribution for American Racing Equipment for 21 years and national sales manager for MHT Luxury Alloys for 12 years, took a young buck under his wing and gave me the opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the industry's top sales and marketing personnel. Max, with 18 years in the wheel and tire industry including eight-plus years at Sentury Tire USA as director of sales, continues to pump new ideas and has taught me to approach the market from many angles.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Meeting a lot of great people and creating great business relationships throughout the world, and making a strong network of friends. I had the opportunity given by Art Hale Jr. to be a part of the creation of FUEL Wheels in 2007 with just an idea and small market plan that was hanging on my office wall. I also was a part of Hostile Wheels in 2011 when KH Lee said we need a new brand at MKW Alloy. I was part of the branding and design at American Truxx Wheels by Mustafa at Tire Universe Dallas, Texas. Now at Sentury Tire through Max Wee our team is constantly working the tire industry with many different branding ideas and there is more to come.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Selling products to this great industry and coaching a great sales force.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Education and communication to the retail stores and consumers. Before I was in my teens my family had a stand at the swap meet where I would help sell. Competition then was just a strong as now, just in a different perspective. We had to educate and communicate the qualities and differences between our product and the stand next to us. It’s simple, it’s called “sales”. Not taking orders because of price being the lowest.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Well we all choose what we want to do with our lives. When I was brought into the industry by my brother I knew that the automotive industry was what I wanted to do. Sales plus the automotive industry is like a dream come true for most young males.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
At the same time this industry isn’t for everyone, so when I come across someone that I feel has the passion for sales and automotive I ask them if they are happy with their job? No matter if they are making great money but if they’re not happy then they are not working to their fullest potential and I like to help people that want to be more and have more to give.
Tell us about your family.
Married to my soulmate and have two beautiful daughters and four handsome boys.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
Hanging out with my family. Camping, kids activities, hanging out with the neighbors, and spending quality time with my wife.
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking who am I going to call on and what needs to get done before the end of day.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I’m pretty open with what I do.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Tools, although I’ll never use half the tools I own. I always want to make sure that I have the right tool for the project, even though I don’t know when that project may be.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I knew how to speak mandarin and play the piano.
What’s your favorite food?
I can handle Thai, Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Indian, American, Mediterranean. Pretty much anything except for liver.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Vicente Fernandez, the king of ranchera music.
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?
Well if you’re not prepaid in today’s world you can end up in situations like this. I would take my $1,000 and buy a new phone, download all my contacts, apps, photos from my backup and be a happier camper than the person holding my ex-phone that would be disabled and no better use than a paper weight.