On the Rise: Blake Banton
Operations Systems Project Manager | American Tire Distributors Inc. | Age: 28
What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was as an operations specialist at American Tire Distributors.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was attracted to the tire industry because it presented a unique opportunity to use my operations and IT skillset to help better my company and the customers we serve.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
My biggest challenge has been launching projects and supporting them through the challenges that COVID-19 presented.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My family is the biggest influence on my career because they’ve helped instill the foundational qualities that I’ve built my career on.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment in the industry was rolling out ATD’s new mobile solution, Traction, which modernized the way we deliver products by providing real-time delivery updates to our customers while also equipping our drivers with state-of-the-art technology to complete deliveries and reduce our paper cost with digital invoices. In order to implement this industry-changing initiative, I helped manage a large team across multiple business units to ensure that the proper project design, change management efforts, testing and implementation strategy were in place to make the rollout a success. In the end, Traction was successfully introduced to 130 distribution centers and more than 1,400 drivers.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I help create, design, test and implement different supply chain operations projects for ATD. No two days are the same for me! The variety of projects I’m on keeps my job interesting.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
Avoid wearing white shirts while working around tires. I ruined a handful of golf shirts my first month at ATD.
Tell us about your family.
My parents and sister are based out of Charleston, S.C. where I grew up. They mean a lot to me and I owe a lot of credit to them for my own successes.
What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Everyone’s lifestyle was changed due to this pandemic. I’ve learned a lot about myself which has led me to take up new hobbies. Cooking, golfing, longboarding and distance running are just a few interests I’ve picked up.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I’ve always wanted to be able to whistle. I’ve tried over and over to teach myself and have had no luck.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Going to the gym after work definitely helps me shake off a rough day.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
One of my favorite books I’ve read is The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. It’s a great book that tackles a variety of supply chain topics and breaks them down into understandable solutions.
What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?
I’m really into fantasy football so I love to listen to the Fantasy Football Focus Show with Matthew Berry.
If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)
If I set aside a couple years to focus on the sport, I think I could win a goal medal in racquetball.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Like many other industries, labor shortages are causing supply issues which are causing downstream impacts to the end consumer.
What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?
Invest in your employees and they will invest back into your business. Show potential employees paths to upskill themselves and expand their knowledge.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Enjoying an early retirement and playing golf every day.