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On the Rise: Joel DeRuiter

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Joel DeRuiter

New Account Development | Wonderland Tire Co. | Age: 36


What was your first job in the industry? 

Outside sales.

What attracted you to the industry?

It was the company that attracted me, not necessarily the industry. They seemed like a well-run company with a lot of room for growth.

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

The flooding of Chinese tires into the market.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? 

My boss and the person who hired me, Earl Kamps.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry? 

Being able to grow a happy and profitable customer base.

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

I'll start out by saying that I sell primarily commercial truck tires. My job responsibilities consist of cold calls, follow-ups and building relationships with current customers. My Job title is actually new account development. Most of my day is spent working with new and current prospects that are not buying our products. Once a customer has built up trust with us I can pass the customer along to the fleet management rep and they can handle the day-to-day tasks including taking orders and delivering the tires to that customer. Some of my job also consists of working out issues with current customers. If there are issues with tire warranties, billing issues, or any other task that requires more hands-on care I can take care of that as well. There are many days where I might have a plan for what I might do that day or who I might visit, and those plans could completely change. That's one of the joys of this job though,  I never know what my day might consist of!

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

I wish someone had told me not to be intimidated. When I first started this job I had no previous tire experience. I was quite intimidated to go into large fleets when I didn't know much about the products I was selling. Over time I learned that the majority of people I have come into contact with are nice people and are willing to talk with a salesperson.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to my wonderful wife Amy for 13 years.  We have three children together.  Evan (9), Mikayla (7) and Faith (4).  We enjoy doing many family activities together including biking, camping, going to Michigan in the summer, playing sports and going to church.  We live in Tinley Park, Ill., which is a suburb about 30 miles outside of downtown Chicago. 

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

The pandemic has taught me to slow down. What I mean by this is that life can sometimes be so busy that you can't take time to actually sit back and do nothing. With a family of five it seems like we were running from one place to another without a break. The pandemic has taught not only me, but our whole family that sometimes it is good to take a deep breath and slow down.

Name a talent you wish you had.

I wish I could play the piano. One thing that I really enjoy watching and listening to is someone who can really play the piano. It really is something to watch!

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?

When I have a stressful day I always look forward to coming home and giving my kids a big hug.  Everything from the day can be forgotten at this moment and I can enjoy the next three hours with them before they go to bed. One of my favorite things is when I come home my 4 year old daughter will come running out to me on the driveway and scream "Daddy, your home!" before she leaps into my arms. It is truly the best!

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

One book that I have read recently is Into thin Air by Jon Krakauer.  I have always enjoyed reading books about high alpine mountaineering. Someday I hope to trek into the Himalayas and maybe even climb a mountain!

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

I am not a huge podcast guy.  Generally I am in my truck for about 5 to 6 hours a day driving so there is a lot of listening to the radio.  I usually stick with sports talk radio but if that gets old all put on some country music.

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

If I had won an Olympic gold I think I would have earned it in beach volleyball.  Although I have never played competitively in this sport, I really do love it.  I have always played basketball and baseball my whole life, but I feel like beach volleyball would have been a sport that I really could have excelled at with a little more practice.  

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?

The biggest issue facing the tire industry in my opinion is cheap imported tires. I primarily work with commercial truck tires so the cheap import tires have always been a thorn in our side. As a company that pushes buying a good quality American tire and then retreading that tire, these tires have always taken away from our business. These cheaper tires primarily have a "one-and-done casing" meaning the lack of durability wont allow them to be safely retreaded.  Retreading is a very cost effective way for fleets to save money. It also is an excellent way to recycle these tires.  Without retreading many more truck tires would end up filling our landfills!

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

The advice I would give to dealers looking for new employees is to treat them with fairness and respect. I firmly believe that an employee who feels valued by the company will work harder and be more effective at their job.

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

 I really don't know what I will be doing in 20 years.  I hope to be in the tire business still.  There is an old saying that says "Want to hear God laugh?  Tell him your plans!"

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