On the Rise: PJ Sparkman
Store Manager | Joe’s Tire | Age: 37
What was your first job in the industry?
In 2014, I was hired as a sales representative and office manager for a small body shop that also sold tires and mechanical services in my hometown. I knew nothing about tires at the time, but I was thrust into it, and I learned quickly that this might be something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Joe's Tires gave me an opportunity in 2016, and I have been here ever since. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What attracted you to the industry?
I enjoy helping customers solve their problems and the satisfaction of a job well done. I like that different aspects of the industry can be fast-paced and other areas can be a little more "take your time." No two days, or hours, are ever the same.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Navigating COVID-19 was by far the biggest challenge I’ve faced yet. We were forced to make difficult decisions, and those sacrifices were not easy. That being said, I believe we became a better company as a result of them. Hard things sometimes force the change that needs to happen.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Our owner and CEO Jake Hershberger. He has been everything a person could ask for in a boss, but he’s also a great friend and treats all of his employees as family.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I am extremely proud of our store for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and ultimately coming out of it better in the end. We learned a lot about what we were all capable of, what we had to have to continue, and what we didn't need after all.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I manage a Joe’s Tire store in New Martinsville, W. Va. I am responsible for day-to-day operations, overseeing four employees — one salesperson, two tire techs and one mechanic. Most of my day is spent at the sales counter, selling tires and mechanical service, answering phone calls, dealing with customers, answering questions, and solving problems.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
There will be ups and downs, great times, and terrible times, you will lose people along the way, whether by your choice or other outside factors.
Tell us about your family.
My wife and I have been married now for 10 years and we have two beautiful daughters and a beautiful home in which to raise them. We have amazing neighbors who have become great friends, almost like family!
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I learned that I am capable of doing more with less than I ever thought possible. Also, hand washing and hand sanitizer are very good things!
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I knew how to play guitar.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Sometimes I go for a drive by myself with the music up loud to clear my head. Sometimes I just lay down on the bed or couch and shut my eyes for a while, even if I don’t fall asleep, it helps.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I don’t read many books. Not even sure what the last one I read, probably something golf-
What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?
Don’t do many podcasts either, but really enjoy anything Pat McAfee does.
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
Men’s golf would bring me a gold medal.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
So much uncertainty regarding the prices and availability of tires.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
Good ones are out there, it may take a while to find them, but if and when you do find them, do what you can to keep them in the fold. The good ones are not easy to replace!
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Hopefully still with Joe’s Tires in some sort of management capacity.