On the Rise: Tom Eisenberg
General Manager : West Coast Tire and Service | Age: 26
What was your first job in the industry?
When I was really young I used to help my grandfather put stamps on all the direct mail pieces he sent out, so technically that would be first job at the shop. That led to cleaning and eventually becoming a tire mounter.
What attracted you to the industry?
I have always had a love for cars. At 16 I started working for my family's tire shop mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, and taking out the trash. Moved up to mounting tires and slowly worked my way to the sales floor. Ten years later I became the general manager.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Age. When you have a team of over 25 employees, most of whom have been in the industry as long as I have been alive, it’s very difficult to gain their trust as a leader.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My Grandfather Bob Mirman. He is an inspiration to a lot of people in this industry, and at 85 is still as sharp as ever.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Rebranding our shop and updating our image has been my biggest challenge. We were founded in 1970 and all of logos, mailings and marketing strategies reflected that. Being a millennial I had a lot of work to do in order to bring our internet presence to same level as our actual reputation and size.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
The same thing, so my customers' children become regulars. My goal in life is to be happy, luckily at 26 I am already pretty much there. In 20 years I expect to be happy and healthy with a family, still running the shop. Maybe expanding to a second or third location if the real estate market will allow it. The thing is, as real estate prices increase in west Los Angeles, smaller shops can’t make rent and they get pushed farther east, leaving more customers for me.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Two things. The rising cost of real estate versus online sellers’ price pressure. And the internet. For the tire industry, competition is everywhere and for the consumer, price is everything. From Tire Rack selling $450 tires with no tax, to Goodyear selling direct to consumers, the dealerships are more competitive than ever, and wholesale warehouses like Tire Warehouse will sell to any and every gas station or small shop with no minimum orders or loyalty to bigger shops like me. The tire game is not the future. We have repositioned our self to focus more on service and body work.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Wear a back brace when you're mounting tires! I wish someone would have let me know how to keep my stress level down. With every problem I fix, a new one arises. It’s just part of the business, especially when you touch 75 cars a day and average $110,000 a week in sales.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
I hire them. Opening a new shop around here is impossibly expensive. Good help is hard to find.
Tell us about your family.
My grandfather started selling retreads off the back of a truck in the 1950s once he got out of the Marines. I am proudly fifth generation Angeleno. We are locals, born and raised on the west side of LA. I live with my brother in Venice and my sister lives down the street in Brentwood. My mother lives over in Malibu and my grandfather lives in Beverly Hills. Family is everything to me. Other than blood, this shop is my family. Some of the guys here have known me since I was a toddler. I used to get dropped off here for a few hours with my brother so my grandfather could babysit while my Mom ran errands.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I play soccer on a couple of teams. We are open six days a week, so Sunday is my weekend and I spend the majority of the day doing activities, going to the beach, hiking, and riding motorcycles. But my favorite is Sunday night soccer. My shop sponsors a team that I play on. It’s a lot of fun. When you work this much working out and any physical activity is important to reduce stress.
What keeps you up at night?
Nothing. I have to wake up far too early. I am a little worried about how the Earth is being destroyed. This past year we put 150 solar panels on our roof to reduce our carbon footprint.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I used to be a vegetarian, until I started working at the shop and didn't really have a choice anymore.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
People watching. I have a bad habit of staring at people for a while. That’s kind of why I always wear my sunglasses. I find it very entertaining watching how people act and react.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Playing the piano. Nothing is cooler than going to a house or bar with an empty piano and being able to sit down and rattle off some masterpiece with ease.
What’s your favorite food?
Whatever the crew is ordering. I eat anything these days, but my favorite foods are specific dishes. I am a big fan of authentic Mexican food or fresh sushi.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I would choose Elon Musk. I think that man is a genius and would love to pick his brain.
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?
Less than a minute. My generation uses our cell phones for any and every task. Answering emails, Yelp reviews, dropping pins to customers via text, sending pictures. I generate far more than $1,000 a day with this silly phone of mine.