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On the Rise: Andrea Zabell

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Andrea Zabell 

Manager | Waterloo Tirecraft | Age: 38 

 

What was your first job in the industry?     

I started as a parts driver for the company I now manage. After arriving at the shop to get my tires changed over, I was chatting with the manager at the time. Before leaving I was offered a job on the spot and have never left 

What attracted you to the industry?  

Full-time hours with benefits were the reasons I came aboard. I had been waitressing and bartending trying unsuccessfully to purchase my first home. Two years after starting with the company I was able to make this purchase 

What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?    

COVID. Schools closed so my kids came to work with me every day for over a year. Talk about starting them young! They were amazing at adapting to this new lifestyle. At the same time the customer experience changed and there were new best practices to keep employees and customers safe. It was a challenge to maintain positive relationships with our customers with limited contact 

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?  

Udo Neumann. I entered into this business with no experience at all. Udo took me under his wing and mentored me and taught me everything I know. Udo was very supportive and showed me that being truly genuine and honest with people would build the trust that would make me successful in our business 

What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?    

In 2021 we shut down the location we had been in for over 22 years and opened up a couple blocks away. Along with this move we brought into the business other locations’ clients and their employees as they were forced to shut their doors. We were able to do all this with only shutting our doors for one day of business!

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

As the shop manager, I ensure customers’ needs are met, concerns or complaints are resolved, and that our service is fast and efficient. I am also responsible for hiring, managing all store personnel and maintaining a high team morale. 

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

Big changes take time and are challenging, but keep going and they will pay off!

Tell us about your family. 

My family is very important to me. I have two young boys ages 7 and 9 who are little balls of energy. I am close with my parents, my two sisters, brother, as well as my six nieces and nephews. We all live locally, which allows us to spend all special occasions and holidays together. I love that my boys are growing up with their cousins! 

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day? 

I recover by listening to music while sitting on my balcony, which has been very therapeutic for me. 

Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry. 

As a Canadian living in ever changing weather, I think people need to understand the true importance of proper winter tires and how they can improve safety. I also think it’s important for people to understand when is the right time to get a seasonal tire change instead of waiting until there is snow on the ground to try and book an appointment.  

If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why? 

Robert Downey Jr. I think he is extremely interesting, smart and seems very warm. Plus, I could brag to my kids that I met Ironman! 

Name a talent you wish you had. 

I wish I could play a musical instrument, specifically a guitar, but could never quite get the hang of it. 

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today? 

Finding hard working, reliable employees. We have an amazing group of people who work here, but we have expanded and are looking to hire, which has proven difficult as most people are not looking for labor intensive jobs. 

Tell us your biggest pet peeve. 

Being late! Everyone is late from time to time, but when it becomes common it’s frustrating and disrespectful. 

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

As a single mom of two kids, diving into a book doesn’t happen too often. Between the kids playing sports and running a large shop, the only chance I get is reading “Dog Man” comic books with the kids. 

If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest? This is the biggest struggle in today’s industry. My only advice would be to make sure your current employees are happy and feel appreciated. Good workers are hard to replace! 

Something that worked for us is sending an email to our customer database that we have built trust with over the years, to see if anyone knows someone who may be looking for work.  

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

I would love to co-own Waterloo Tirecraft and have my two boys working with me. Truly making it family owned and operated.  My heart is in this store!  

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