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On the Rise: Bridgette Romberger

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Bridgette Romberger 

Assistant category planning manager | Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 34

 

What was your first job in the industry?     

I joined Goodyear right out of college and entered their commercial sales development program. I trained at headquarters in Akron, Ohio, for a few months and then moved to Harrisburg, Pa. to work as a preferred fleet sales specialist in outside sales. During this time, I was able to really start to learn the industry from the ground up and start to build my expertise. 

What attracted you to the industry?             

As a kid, my answer to what do you want to be when you grow up was never, “a tire girl,” but here I am! During college, I had an internship selling residential waste services door-to-door. That internship taught me a lot about sales and that I was pretty good at it. I met Goodyear at a career fair and figured, if I can sell residential waste services, certainly I could sell truck tires, so I decided to talk with them. Once I heard more about their culture and the growth opportunities they had to offer, I thought it would be a good fit. I was right, because 12 years and six growth opportunities later, I am still with them and continuing to thrive! 

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

I started in this industry fresh out of college at 22 years old. By 24, I was managing about a dozen sales associates for Goodyear Commercial. Being a young female district sales manager in a male dominated industry isn’t always the easiest hurdle to overcome when your sales associates and customers “have been in the industry longer than you have been alive.” I learned very quickly that respect does not come with your title, it must be earned. By continuing to work hard to learn and understand the business, over time I was able to show the sales associates and customers that I could be a trusted advisor to help them achieve their goals. 

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?  

I’ve had too many influencers and mentors to name! I give a lot of the credit for where I am today to all my mentors in the northeast region, especially those who gave me the opportunity to lead and show them what I was capable of. I looked to my managers, counterparts, dealer sales associates, service technicians and fleet customers to help me understand and learn everything from how to mount a tire to how to sign a new customer. I am very grateful to all of them for investing their time and energy into helping me continue to grow with Goodyear. 

What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?    

I’d have to say my biggest accomplishment was my first real sale to a new customer! Once I moved to my first territory, I started making cold calls but wasn’t having the immediate success I had hoped for. One day, I called on a truck and trailer repair company and they expressed some interest in our products. After about the fifth sales call to them, I finally received an order for 16 drive tires, and I was ecstatic! We ended up throwing their whole shop a pizza party to celebrate! That sensation of accomplishment was like a launchpad for my career, and it gave me the confidence I needed to start to close more sales. 

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

My current role as the cross-category planning manager for commercial focuses on creating programs and incentives for our dealer network to reward them to purchase and sell Goodyear commercial products.  

I am also heavily involved with the commercial integration of Cooper Tire, which we purchased last year. I am currently working through our pricing and programs strategy as one team for 2023. 

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

One thing I wish I would have known before taking this role is how reactive we must be in today’s current environment. We can plan accordingly for next quarter based on what we know today, but with how quickly things are changing, our original plans may not meet the needs of the market conditions in the next quarter, causing the need for a quick pivot.    

Tell us about your family. 

My family is my everything! My husband and I have been married for about five years now. We share a common interest in commercial tires as he is in the trucking industry as well. In the beginning of our relationship, it was fun to talk about tires and trucking, but then we decided we needed to separate our conversations and not talk so much about work. These days, the topics of conversation typically revolve around our two little girls, ages 4 & 2.5. They, along with our labradoodle, keep us very busy. We love playing outside and going on milkshake dates. 

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day? 

My mom taught me early on to pick my battles and don’t let the little things get to me, she calls it “salt and pepper.” She says, “There are bigger things to worry about in life than spilling the salt and pepper shakers.” I remind myself of those teachings when I’m getting stressed, and it really helps to put things into perspective and brush the stress off.  

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

One thing I wish the average American understood is that tires are not just round and black and that all tires are not created equally. Selling the value proposition for our brands can be challenging at times, especially in today’s environment with all the rising costs. A lot of people are looking for the lowest cost today, not necessarily the lowest cost of ownership over the lifetime of the product. Also, I wish they understood how valuable the proper amount of air pressure is to the performance and life of a tire! 

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

I’m not overly infatuated with celebrities, but if I had the opportunity, I would love to have lunch with Eric Church. I’ve been listening to him and going to his shows for years and would love to just pick his brain about his journey.  

Name a talent you wish you had. 

I wish I had the talent of being a better cook. I have about three to five go-to meals that my husband tolerates, at best. Although, I suppose if I were a better cook, that would mean that I would have to make the meals more often, so maybe I don’t want that.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today? 

I think some of the biggest issues facing the industry today are around the labor shortages and supply constraints. We want to grow with fleets, but if we don’t have the people or products to service these new fleets it is very difficult to be able to put our best foot forward and build that partnership.  

Tell us your biggest pet peeve.         

My biggest pet peeve is when people are not genuine. It takes very little effort to just be yourself.  

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

“There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake,” by Lauren Long. It is the silliest book to read with little kids and made us all laugh!  

If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest? 

If I could give one piece of advice it would be to give the person without the college degree a chance for higher level career opportunities. I know so many qualified individuals in our industry who get overlooked for these opportunities because they don’t have that little piece of paper. Their experience and track record should be able to be used in lieu of a degree.  

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

All I can hope for in 20 years is that my family is still happy and healthy. By then, I hope that my kids are contributing members of society and that my husband and I have figured out how to retire early.  

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