On the Rise: Ken Conrad
Service Manager | Future Tire | Age: 35
What was your first job in the industry?
Actually the first job in the auto industry was with Future Tire. I started with the company at 18 years old.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was born into the automotive world. I grew up building race cars, fixing cars and restoring the classics with the family. The automotive industry to me has always been a family affair.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
The biggest challenge for me was when my grandfather passed away. He was the one that started it all and was there for every good moment and every bad moment, from graduating from Universal Technical Institute in 2010 to where I am in the company today.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My grandfather was my biggest influence; he started it all for me. He raced figure 8 up to the time I was born and turned his racing passion into teaching me everything he knew about cars, trucks and everything in between. He was a Navy Air mechanic who flew on P2 airplanes. He finished his career before retirement as a maintenance mechanic for Delphi Automotive systems.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I would have to say starting from the bottom and working my way to the position I currently am holding. The company has grown substantially and being part of the growth has been amazing and a big accomplishment for me personally.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
Well currently my job title is service manager of one of the company's four stores. You can find me turning wrenches, answering phones, helping customers, ordering parts down to doing off-the-road tires. On occasion I work in two locations, my time is split between wrenching and performing the duties of a service manager.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
Honestly this is where my high school math teacher was correct. You know those kids sitting in class saying ‘I will not need this in the field I am going to work in. That thought that would periodically cross my mind. I never would have imagined that teacher being correct when it came to being an automotive technician.
Tell us about your family.
I have the most amazing support from my family. My wife Tiffany is the best, she has stood by me through everything supporting me all the way. Together we have five children ranging from 22 to 14 years old. Our oldest was 15 when we adopted him just before we were married in 2016. (We always joke when telling our kids ages.) She has an 18 year old daughter and a 14 year old daughter. I brought along a 15 year old daughter and a 14 year old son.
The two 14 year olds are three months apart.
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
That family is important. With everything going on in the world, having them around gave me a sense of peace and relief. We have a bond unlike we had before we spent more time together then I ever thought possible.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Public speaking would be the biggest talent I could ever wish for.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
With the help of my family, we love to play disc golf and go fishing. Just spending time walking the course chatting with them about the day walking through God's country takes all stress away for me. I live in an amazing area surrounded by beautiful, tall pines.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
The best book I have currently read would be The Tinder Street series by Nick Russell. He has written three in the series, the first two books were difficult to put down. I have not read the third book yet.
What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?
I have never listened to one. My wife loves listening to the Tattooed Mormon.
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
Back at Universal Technical Institute we had a competition between students and instructors. It was simple things like changing spark plugs in a vehicle faster than the instructor or rebuilding a clutch pack inside an automatic transmission. It would be pretty cool to see some more of those types of competitions.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Technology is up there at the top, however after the pandemic and with the havoc it has caused around the globe I would have to say materials needed to create products has become the biggest challenge.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
Give the underdog a shot — they may impress you. Teach new employees. It may be the most difficult thing to do as the job may not come naturally to them like it does for others.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Personally I can not expect anything. I only hope and pray I am doing what I am doing now only with more knowledge and experience exceeding the expectations of my employer.