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Paul Zurcher's Lessons in Leadership

Nine Principles Provide Formula for Success

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Integrity "is the foundation of character," said Paul Zurcher. "It is being faithful in action to your values, your promises and your word."

Books about “leadership” are a dime a dozen. Some are good. Some are just OK. I happen to enjoy books about leadership that have been written by - or about - independent tire dealers. 


There are several that fall into this category. Les Schwab’s self-penned book, “Pride in Performance,” is one.


“How the Rubber Meets the Road: A Blue-Collar Roadmap to Success for Business Owners and Entrepreneurs,” written by Dick Erickson, the founder of Sun Tire & Automotive Service, is another. 


Both are excellent. 


However, up until a few weeks ago, I had never read a book on the subject of leadership quite like “Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Nine Proven Principles From the Life of Paul Zurcher.” 


Written by Paul’s granddaughter, Melinda Zurcher, the book was published in 2017. 


Twelve years prior, I had the good fortune of spending several days with Paul, the founder of the Best-One Tire Group. MTD was preparing to announce that Paul would be our 2005 Tire Dealer of the Year Award recipient. I drove to Monroe, Ind., to interview him. 


We discussed Paul’s early days as a tire dealer and how he had built Best-One into the powerhouse it had become. 


We covered his thoughts about how the tire industry - and selling tires - had evolved over the decades. 


We talked about how Paul had given many other successful tire dealers their start. 


But as we sat in his modest office, it became clear that Paul, a deeply religious man, wanted to discuss more than business. 


He talked about his faith and how it guided his work life and his personal life. He also discussed why “character counts.” (This quote from Paul became the headline of our September 2005 Tire Dealer of the Year article about him.) 


Paul then shared what he called his “code of honor” - nine principles that he strove to live and conduct business by: 


1. To seek God’s friendship, fellowship and guidance 

2. To develop effective relationships 

3. To treat everyone with honor, love, dignity and respect 

4. To be self-disciplined and self-controlled 

5. To do the right things right 

6. To be a positive, enthusiastic and passionate person 

7. To never compromise my integrity 

8. To plan for tomorrow today 

9. To live life now 


“Where the Rubber Meets the Road” includes Paul’s expanded thoughts on each of these points. 


The first principle, he said, involves “opening yourself to God’s guidance and asking Him for the power to do what He asks of you.” 


The second principle can only happen when there is trust, which “comes from your inner core - from your character,” the most important quality a leader can possess, he explained. 


Treating everyone with honor, love, dignity and respect simply means “caring,” which Paul believed should be “the foundation of everything we do.” 


Elaborating on the fourth principle, he asserted that “only the disciplined really get good at anything” and that “knowing your purpose focuses your life.” 


When discussing doing the right things in the right manner, Paul maintained that “we all know what the right things are. The hard part is committing to doing them. Character is doing the right thing, day in and day out - even when no one is looking.” 


Being a positive, enthusiastic and passionate person, he explained, “is easier said than done” and that “what you put into your mind - your programming - determines the person you will be.” 


Integrity “is the foundation of character. It is being faithful in action to your values, your promises and your word.” 


Planning for tomorrow today takes concentration and tenacity, he noted. “Throughout history, the men and women who have had the greatest impact are the most focused - the ones who mix their passion for their goals with foresight and planning.” (“An idea is worth a dollar,” he added. “A plan, well-executed, is worth a million.”) 


And finally, when it comes to living life now, “don’t put off living, loving, giving and appreciating,” he advised. “Life is too short to be little. Be big, be happy, be enthusiastic and especially be thankful and grateful.” 


Paul passed away in 2015 at the age of 90, but his advice still resonates. And I have no doubt that it will continue to do so. That’s real leadership. 


Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of “Where the Rubber Meets the Road.” (You can order one by emailing corene.scheumann@ bestonetire.net.) I guarantee that it will be well worth your time.

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