On the Rise: Aaron Miguel
Strategic account manager, government | East Bay Tire Co. | Age: 37
What was your first job in the industry?
I started as a temp at East Bay Tire over 17 years ago unloading container loads of tires. It was this work that opened the door to the opportunities that would later shape my career. Once I was a permanent employee, I moved from warehouse technician to logistics to shipping coordinator — fully learning how the warehouse functioned and what products we carried for our customers. I then moved from the warehouse floor to the sales floor and joined the wholesale sales team selling to tire dealers across the State of California.
What attracted you to the industry?
The tire industry is constantly evolving and being a part of that change is exciting. It is also an industry that values hard work, relationships and knowledge. East Bay Tire has been in business for over 75 years and having a solid management team who can motivate teams to be successful and develop a solid career was always a driving force for being an active player in the industry.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
East Bay Tire does it all: wholesale, commercial service, retail, original equipment and then some. We carry just about every tire available and have a large customer base. Understanding how our business units work together while navigating ever-evolving industry changes can be difficult. I am very fortunate to have a management team of industry veterans who are extremely knowledgeable and who have been through it all and have seen it all. As a whole, the East Bay Tire team faces challenges together which makes working through difficult times much easier and more productive. Price increases and product shortages are often difficult and present their own set of challenges, but I know I will come out on the other side in a good spot because the East Bay Tire team is driven to out-perform our competitors and remain on top.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Throughout the course of my career, I have worked alongside some of our industry’s best players who have all taught me valuable, but different things at key times when I needed them. George Pehanick, CEO, East Bay Tire; John Hulsey, general manager, East Bay Tire; and fellow sales associates Alfred Robles and Greg Wilson. Each of these men have shown me the highest level of leadership; they have mentored me to grow professionally and have been examples of what makes the tire industry one of the best places to work.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
I have held many positions at East Bay Tire which has given me a complete big picture understanding of how our business operates. This has made me a far better and more productive team member, which in turn, has helped me support those around me when processes need insight and understanding. Over the course of my career, I have helped create and implement key processes that are widely used by my team today. In my current role, I have helped to establish processes for supporting and fulfilling our State of California contract that has continued to show the valuable work that East Bay Tire does for our industry and all of the communities in which we serve. I have taken the knowledge from the home office and am confident in supporting our customers when I am called onsite during large-scale events and urgent situations.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
My responsibilities include wholesale account, Dawg Pound Tire dealer and government business growth. Just like with most positions in the tire industry, no days or weeks are the same. I can start my day in the office managing wholesale and government accounts or heading out on the road to field locations or state agency fleet yards. I also spend my days managing government business operations, processing purchase orders, dispatching service for vehicles/equipment statewide, and consultation/ support for government agencies.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
I wish someone would have told my younger self the importance of investing in relationships early, for both large and small accounts, because over the years the smaller accounts have become larger accounts and long-term partnership and trust is everything.
Tell us about your family.
My family is my focus. My tribe is the reason I get up in the morning and work hard to make the best life possible. I owe a big part of this to my uncle and mentor, Gus. His priorities, values and motivation helped me build the foundation of my success today.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
With 600-plus horsepower through the Napa Valley, Calif. Some days call for leaving the stress on the pavement.
Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry.
We can all agree that the many businesses that make up the tire industry are essential service providers, but not many really understand what that means. Just about every vehicle that rolls on the road or off road needs tires. Tire manufacturers and tire dealers supply the tires to keep the world moving. During the pandemic all the commercial trucks driving coast to coast delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies needed tires. The emergency vehicles answering the many calls for help in our communities will need tires. The farm equipment planting and harvesting food that continues to feed our nation will need tires. The list goes on and on. East Bay Tire is not just a tire dealer. We supply products and services that directly impact the safety and well-being of our customers and communities in which we serve. I invite anyone to sit and watch their environment and consider the vehicles and machinery moving around them and what makes it possible. East Bay Tire and those in the tire industry make it possible.
If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why?
I would most definitely want time with Dana White, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president. His prolific business sense and negotiating skills are not only powerful, but have shaped the ultimate fighting industry and made it what it is today. Being able to interview him and listen to his experience would be a powerful way to polish some of my own skills working with government agencies and dealers across the country.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I would like to master the ability to speak multiple languages. Speaking different languages allows a person to connect with people and build trust quickly. It would open a whole new league of opportunities.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
There are many issues facing the tire industry today. Finding and keeping qualified professionals ranks high on the list. The industry needs people to help manufacture tires, sell tires, pull tires for shipments and deliver tires.
Tell us your biggest pet peeve.
Lack of communication. Things change rapidly and alerting people to changes is key, whether it be company direction from a top-level executive or things about one’s neighborhood from a community leader. Keep it simple and disseminate the information.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
“The Leader Who Had No Title,” by Robin Sharma. If you are interested in learning about success for both business and generally in life, this is a motivational read.
If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest?
Employment needs are endless these days. In many aspects, sometimes the best employees for the job already exist within an organization. I would highly recommend that a tire dealer look to see how upward growth can be achieved for current employees who know the customer base and culture. Then look at filling lower-level positions and provide top-tier training to get them in and keep them in. Employee-referrals are also a great way to find quality professionals to fill current openings. If your employees recommend someone they want to work with and the candidate turns out to be the right fit, it is a winning scenario.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Modern Tire Dealer’s Top 50 over 50! Forward progression and self-growth is my focus always.