On the Rise: Brock Swentzel
President of the Wholesale Division | S&S Tire | Age: 32
What was your first job in the industry?
Counter salesperson at one of the S&S Tire Retail stores in Lexington.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was initially attracted to the opportunity to be a part of the family business. My grandfather, Paul Swentzel and his partner Don Schneider started S&S Tire in 1974 with a single retail store. It’s enjoyable to get to work with my dad and now brother, Austen on a daily basis. We look forward to continuing to thrive as a family owned and operated business.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced so far in my career has been adapting to the numerous impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. We very quickly had to adjust to maintain our business and increase our efficiencies across the company. As an essential business, we had to change how our employees worked and interacted with our customers. We also took a deeper look at the way we were monitoring our routes and ordering tires. Adapting quickly led us through a time of high uncertainty and we are now confidently thriving.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My biggest influence in my career has been our vice president of sales, Bob Jenkins. It’s easy for me to pick my father or grandfather who have certainly taught me a lot and they have made a big influence on me as well. Bob has always been willing to teach me everything he knows. He has such a deep knowledge for what our customers need and in relation to what S&S Tire needs. He’s certainly a gem in the tire industry and S&S Tire is lucky to have had him here for 25-plus years.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been creating and developing our supply chain. About eight years ago, each of our wholesale locations was ordering tires independently. Centralizing the ordering process for our 12 locations has helped tremendously. We can focus on our company goals and monitor industry trends as a team. It required me to really understand the market, emerging sizes, having the right inventory at the right quantities, and the importance of collaborating with our manufacturer partners. Continuing the development with this team is critical to our long-term success.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I’m currently the president of the wholesale division. My daily responsibilities focus around sales strategies, working with manufacturers on opportunities and supply, operational improvements, etc. that improve the overall profitability for each of our 12 wholesale locations.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
That there is a lot more into running the business than just buying and selling tires. I’ve only scratched the surface so far, but things like bank relationships, insurance, HR issues, accounting and more all add to the things I need to understand that make us operate.
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart, Ariana for 10 years now. We have two beautiful daughters Kiley, 8, and Noelle, 5. They love to dance, play basketball and soccer and go to Disney World!
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
From a work perspective I think it was the ability to adapt. It was/is something that is unprecedented for all of us. It ended up great for S&S, the way we worked to stay in supply and support our dealers and the way we managed the business to keep our employees in work and continue to operate and now we are stronger and healthier than ever.
Personally, there’s a lot we take for granted. As all of us did, I missed going to the movies or dance recitals and once those started to come back you realize how much you missed making those memories with your family.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Play a musical instrument. My daughters are playing piano and they end up teaching me a little bit!
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
I will usually try to find something to do with my family and probably vent to my wife. We will go for a walk or play fetch with our dog, or jump on the trampoline with the kids. Just doing anything with my wife and girls makes me relax and forget about work for a while.
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
I’d like to think it would be in golf. I enjoy playing and can play decently from time to time.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Supply. The pandemic and the shipping issues from overseas have created a large hurdle to overcome. We have changed and adjusted the way we order tires and work closely with our suppliers to get the best we can. It seems like it will continue for some time, so we are just working hard to put ourselves in the best possible position to have the right tire in the right place.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
I think you just have to reward and support your good, consistent employees. This is a time where businesses have little control over who wants to come to work. You just have to create the best environment and culture you can to incentivize those who continue showing up every day.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I expect to be working at S&S and continuing the third-generation business. I’m sure it will change a lot by then, but we plan to continue to be a relevant distributor in the market and continue to develop those relationships with our customers. Perhaps one of my daughters will have decided to join and I can be teaching her the things I’ve learned over the years and pass it on to the fourth generation some day.