On the Rise: Simon Martin
National Sales Manager | Counteract Balancing Beads Inc. | Age: 31
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry is working at Counteract. I started in the warehouse briefly, then moved to sales where I took over Canada as my territory. I put in a lot of leg work there building up my reputation. Then I was promoted to national sales manager overseeing the U.S. and Canada.
What attracted you to the industry?
I have always been a fan of vehicles and anything that has power and speed. I am a large motorcycle fanatic, having raced for many years, and always had an interest in vehicles. I have also always been weirdly attracted to tires, especially aggressive tires for off-road use as I love lifted vehicles and modified off-road trucks. I think it is all very cool.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The largest challenge I have faced in my career would be my age. I am currently 31 years old in an industry that is predominantly older and more experienced. Bringing in a futuristic, younger mindset is not always taken seriously, but I have proven that it should be. My success and our results are the proof in the pudding. Other than that, the largest in-field challenge I have faced is getting people to think outside the box. I can't tell you how many times I have heard "I have been doing this for 50 years; this is how I have always done it and never had a problem." Changing that mindset is very difficult. People get stuck in their ways, but I have figured out how to change that to a certain degree.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
There are many people that I can attribute a lot of influence to, but, I would have to say that the largest influence for this career would be Roger LeBlanc, the owner and president of Counteract who is also my father-in-law. He brought me into this world of tires — with a push from his son Daniel — and gave me the opportunity to prove myself. Along with that, I would have to say my father Scott Martin. He has always pushed me to do well, and always taught me to not care about what a person's title was, or what their position was — it doesn't mean much. One of the biggest lessons I learned from him — and he was a very successful man — was to be me, don't pretend to be someone you're not. Everyone is human. Everyone has hobbies and interests outside of work. If someone doesn't like you for you, then move on. They are not worth your time and energy.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I have had many accomplishments and things I am proud of. I am certainly proud of winning vendor of the year from some of our suppliers, that one always hits home because it is truly an accomplishment and a decision that was made by an entire organization. But I’m also proud of the overall growth of the company. When I started at Counteract we were just moving out of a basement-run company. Fast forward almost seven years later I work with incredible people, have an incredible sales team, and collectively we have become a dominant force in the industry. Our sales have grown substantially year over year, and we are now operating out of a new facility in Guelph that is over 40,000 square feet and boasts our manufacturing and distribution for North America. Other than that, I would say that some of my largest accomplishments include locking down some of the largest tire chains, OEMs, distributors and wholesalers in our industry. I can't say I did that all myself, but my team and I have made some serious impact and it certainly shows. There are no signs of Counteract slowing down — 2020 was our best year ever, and 2021 has already blown that out of the water. I'm excited to see where we can take this and I look forward to the continued success and growth personally and for Counteract.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
Currently I am the national sales manager for Counteract. We are the largest and leading manufacturer of tire balancing compounds and various other wheel-end maintenance tools/products. My workday is always eventful, and always different. The majority of my time is spent handling all of our major national accounts, with that alone it carries many different responsibilities, from building programs, marketing campaigns, setting up and executing product and team training, chasing down new customers and fleets for those accounts. I am also typically the one who performs any of the large-scale training for Counteract or presentations regarding the company as a whole. So, in a nutshell, sales and ensuring that Counteract is the product on our distributors shelves, shop shelves or in a customer's tire is my main objective while also keeping the sales dollars growing. With that I also oversee our sales team and sales process. I have an incredible team and have a lot of trust in them; they don’t need me watching over them like a hawk.
Other than that, I play a role in product development, bringing new ideas and products to the table from idea to final stocked product, attend and represent at tradeshows. I certainly have my fingers and ears into every aspect of the organization.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
I wish someone told me I would be having as much fun as I am having! I never expected to have a career that brings so much joy and satisfaction. I love my job, I love the people I work with. I can confidently say that I am in a very good place in my life.
Tell us about your family.
I have a stunning wife, Carlie, who has been my rock and sidekick for over 10 years. We met in college and our relationship never stops growing. We have two amazing dogs, Ollie and Ash who are both rescues from Cancun, Mexico. They are certainly a handful, but I couldn’t imagine life without them.
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Unfortunately during the pandemic I lost my father, which was an incredible blow to me. That taught me a lot. I learned that life is incredibly valuable and that as North Americans we focus so hard on our careers and being successful. I learned that success is not based on money and who you want people to see you as. We need to stop focusing on that LinkedIn work title and need to take more of a European approach to our lives — “Work to live, not live to work.”
Time is something precious that you can never get back. If you waste it away, at some point in your life you will regret it. What is important is your happiness, family, loved ones and doing the things you want to do. We need to stop trying to impress others. Be you, and let people like you for who you are. If they don’t like who you are, then don’t waste your time trying to make them.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I was good at cooking. That is something I can certainly work on, however, at this point in time I wouldn’t advise anyone to consume anything I cook!
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Usually, I try to leave it all at work once I clock out; it can be very hard sometimes. If I am not travelling I usually will go home, talk to my wife and see my dogs, then focus on something for myself, that can be clearing the mind on a motorcycle ride, tinkering with a new project in the garage, or getting out and doing some sort of other hobby.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I actually am not a major book reader; my brain is always on the go and I find it difficult to buckle down and read through a novel. However, in saying that, recently I did get through a book, and it was incredibly engaging and that was Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
Being Canadian and a hockey player/fan I think it would be fitting to win the gold medal with Team Canada on the rink.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Egos. I think that some people and companies are too quick to judge and pass on opportunities or technologies that are presented to them without putting in the time or effort to understand or see why it could be beneficial. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “I have been doing this for X amount of years and never had an issue.” That also brings the issue of dollars over quality. It's not about how many customers you get in and out of your shop in a day, it's about providing them with an enlightening experience so they want to come back or continue working with you. If you provide good service, good products and genuinely care about the people you serve, the money will come on its own with your reputation.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
Never judge a book by its cover. If someone doesn’t have the skills you desire it doesn’t mean they can't do the job. If you look after your employees and invest in their futures, they will look after yours. Hire people for who they are and want to be, not for their resume and diploma.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I expect to be working at my current organization and growing the company beyond our wildest dreams. At the very least I want to remain in the industry and always continue to learn and better myself as a person and asset to the industry.