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On the Rise: Stephen Reynolds

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Stephen Reynolds

Director of OTR Sales, North America |Triangle Tire USA | Age: 38


What was your first job in the industry? 

Inventory management and inside sales for Rimex Inc. I learned the off-the-road tire side of the industry from the ground up. My very first task on day one was literally to sweep the warehouse floor.

What attracted you to the industry?

The opportunity to grow into an industry I felt was under-recognized by my peers as they entered into the professional sector. The OTR segment of the industry specifically appealed to me as a tight knit community where hard work and effort would be recognized and pay off.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career? 

When I left Rimex, I was hired to manage a tire store for King's Tire Service. I had to learn the commercial truck and passenger segments of the industry on the fly. I was out of my element and frankly over my head at first, but I had the benefit of being able to surround myself with good people who knew those segments of the industry well and I enjoyed trying to pick up on them as quickly as I could.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? 

This is a tough one. I've been blessed with so many good mentors throughout the years. I don't want to leave any of them out but I undoubtedly will. Ray Amburn with Rimex taught me the fundamental skills of management early on in my career and those have served me well throughout. Matt King and Chris Rule at King Tire gave me an invaluable education in terms of seeing the industry from the dealer side. Most recently though, Rick Phillips taught me an entirely new level of professionalism was possible when approaching customer relationships and service, while Manny Cicero has shown me the skills needed to skillfully and tactfully manage an organization at the highest level. I feel like I'm only scratching the surface when it comes to the skills these guys possess, but I'm excited to continue learning and developing skills as quickly as possible, and I recognize that I've been blessed to get to learn from some of the industry’s best.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry? 

Without a doubt my biggest accomplishment in the industry is also my greatest blessing, and that is to have met so many wonderful people and to have forged so many lasting relationships. There are some great folks throughout this industry in every corner of the country and I've been blessed to meet so many of them, and learn from them. If I had to leave the industry tomorrow, my phone would still be full of people I consider friends. I can't articulate how much that means to me. My grandfather used to tell me when I was a boy, "Show me who your friends are, and I'll show you what you are." If he were still here, I think he would be pretty proud of the character of the people I consider friends and that I have the privilege of working with across this country. I wake up everyday with the simple goal of earning the respect of those fine folks, and as long as I'm doing that, it will always be my biggest accomplishment.

Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?

We are a relatively small, but tight knit group at Triangle, so we all have to wear many hats. I work remotely from home or on the road, so my focus day to day is making sure I keep lines of communication open with our customer base. That can be difficult when traveling, especially when you cover the entire country like I do but I feel like good, transparent communication is critical in sales. An average day for me might consist of fielding several phone calls as I walk through an airport and then typing up and submitting orders while on a plane. My favorite days however are in the field with our dealers, calling on end users at mines, quarries or construction companies. I love to do haul road studies, calculate TMPH, and make compound and cold inflation pressure recommendations to help our customers to improve their experience with the product. In addition to that, I make sure that our other sales team members have what information they need to facilitate the accounts they cover. If that wasn’t enough, I also handle all of our adjustment claims. Fortunately we don’t have very many adjustments, but I process each one of those. That often includes following up with dealers or end users to make sure we have the correct pictures and data needed to properly understand why damage occurred. There also isn’t the luxury of a time clock that I can punch in the evening and turn work off. Our home office is in Weihai, China, so they are in the office during my night hours. If I need to get specific information for a dealer, I’m often working on that with the home office at night. I enjoy every aspect of it though, and would find it difficult to not be involved in every aspect of the business. 

What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?

That so many of my good mentors would retire so soon! When I joined Triangle I was by far the youngest member of our team, but that meant I had a lot of good people to learn the business from. And they taught me a lot. I just didn’t expect all the friendly faces to go so soon. I feel like they prepared me adequately for my responsibilities now, but I miss the camaraderie. 

Tell us about your family.

I live in Virginia on a farm with my beautiful wife and four little girls! My oldest is 9, and she’s the best big sister on the planet. That girl is a natural caretaker. Next we have identical twin red-headed little girls who are 5 and just started kindergarten. They are spark plugs. The baby is 19 months, and she’s a joy. Always happy and smiling. She wants to be just like her big sisters. There’s never a dull moment. My wife teaches at the elementary school where the three older girls attend and honestly when I travel, I don’t know how she does it. It’s almost like a magic trick because she makes it look effortless, when I know I wouldn’t be capable of doing what she does. Honestly, she’s the one someone needs to write an article about. She’s amazing. 

What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I learned that farm life out here in the Blue Ridge Mountains was the right choice for me and my family. I spend a lot of time in cities for work, and I used to wonder if being closer to a metropolitan area would be good for my girls, offering more opportunities as they grow up. As we’ve watched the pandemic unfold, I’ve enjoyed homesteading. We’ve shown the girls how to garden, collect rainwater and many other basic skills. It’s a slower pace of life and the remoteness offers us the chance to stay out of the fray and shield the girls to some extent from the changes the world has faced during the pandemic. 

Name a talent you wish you had.

There are several things I wish I were better at or could do. I wish I could weld. I love wood working. I build furniture out of wood as a hobby but recently I discovered what an art form welding is. I  want to be able to create and fabricate from metal like I do with wood.

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?

Working on my farm helps me unwind. Really just getting out in nature in general helps me recover. Whether it’s working with my hands to create something on the farm, or hunting, or fishing. That’s my happy place. If it’s a really rough day, the occasional cigar or a nice glass of bourbon do the trick!

What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

The Glass Factory by Braxton McCoy. It’s based on his experience of getting wounded while serving our country in Ramadi and his struggle to find the courage to persevere.

What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?

I’m a big fan of the Joe Rogan Podcast. I listen to a lot of different podcasts while on planes or in the truck on the way to customers, but Joe Rogan is hard to beat for entertainment. He also has a lot of very smart guests on his podcast, from doctors to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk. I recently listened to his episode with Yeonmi Park. She is a defector from North Korea who has become a human rights advocate. Her testimony about what life was like in North Korea will make you re-evaluate your perspective on life and even our society. I highly recommend it.

If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)

I would probably be able to win one for changing diapers. We’re just now getting our fourth out of diapers, and it’s funny to look back now to our first. I was afraid I’d never be able to change a diaper, now I can almost do it with my mind.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?

Finding young, talented people willing to work hard seems to be our number one issue at this point. That is the common theme as I talk to dealers all over the country from Oregon to Florida — especially with regard to tire technicians. There are a limited number of good, reliable OTR techs out there and if that number gets any smaller, we’re going to be struggling.

What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?

Try looking in different places. I think finding good-hearted people who genuinely want to make a name for themselves should be first priority, and then worrying about teaching them the tire business should be second. You can’t teach the desire to excel, but you can teach the tire business. I was found and recruited into the industry while working construction between college semesters. I was remodeling a guy’s bathroom who was in the OTR industry, and I guess he saw my drive and determination. He offered me a shot, and now I can’t get the tire black out of my blood.

What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?

I hope I’m still doing exactly what I’m doing today because I love it. In 20 years however I hope that I’m training the next generation of guys who are going to carry the torch and mentoring them the same way I was mentored. There have been some really great people who have given me an education that money can’t buy, and I feel compelled to pay that forward!

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