On the Rise: As We Pay Tribute to Gen Y, We Build a Community

May 31, 2016

Millennials in the workplace are often the butt of jokes for their cultural characteristics, either true or imagined. Supposedly they are all “entitled” with a weak work ethic. And they still live at home, even into their 30s, surrounded by the trophies they received for participation.

These are stereotypes, of course, but even Jason Dorsey, a best-selling author and a millennial himself, says a sense of entitlement and impatience (“We are notorious for not being able to wait in line!”) are two defining characteristics of the generation, also referred to as Gen Y.

He also says many millennials are hard working and reliable as well. Those are the workers and the young leaders we want to recognize. So begins our On the Rise program, which is open to anyone in the automotive industry, ages 20 to 39.

Anyone born between 1977 and 1995 are millennials, according to Dorsey, chief strategy officer and millennials researcher at the Center for Generational Kinetics. (The U.S. Census Bureau defines them as being born between 1982 and 2000, but we set the minimum age at 20.)

If you are under 40 and have influenced or contributed to the health of our industry in North America, let us know. Blue collar? White collar? Tire dealer? Supplier? Engineer? Technician? Manager? Salesperson? Marketing guru? If you are making a name for yourself, send us your name! And here is how to do it.

Our On the Rise program has its own page on www.moderntiredealer.com. Just click on “More” in the menu bar at the top of the page, then “On the Rise” in the drop box. Finally, fill out the form and hit “Submit” by July 1.

We will highlight the associates who are “On the Rise,” officially bringing them together as a community, in our November 2016 issue. Until then, we will highlight some of the younger generation for their outstanding accomplishments, leadership qualities, business success and marketing skills every month.

To date, we have received dozens of responses from people like Brian Finkelstein, who at 27 finds himself vice president of sales for Max Finkelstein Inc. in Astoria, N.Y. With 13 distribution centers covering 13 states, Max Finkelstein is one of the largest tire wholesalers in the United States.

Don’t let his last name fool you. He started at the bottom of his family-owned company in high school.

“My first job in the industry was working in hot, sticky distribution centers during the summer, helping our team load trucks, unload trailers and pull tires,” he says. “This taught me to appreciate things and built a foundation from which to learn about our business.”

While attending college, he called on dealers between classes. I don’t get the sense he feels entitled.

“Through this framework, I discovered a passion to carry the torch and felt a (sense) of loyalty to our family, employees, vendors and customers.”

Max Finkelstein has opened four distribution centers in the last two years.

“As my network has expanded, there are still the same amount of hours in a day and days in a week,” he says. And the challenges don’t stop there.

“Having a healthy work-life balance is equally challenging, but extremely important as well. While it’s good to be aggressive, not everything gets done overnight.”

Brian and his brothers represent the fourth generation in the business, but there are other millennials at Max Finkelstein who also are responsible for keeping the 97-year-old business moving forward.

My favorite joke about millennials is they live with their parents for what seems like a millennium, or 1,000 years. All kidding aside, the livelihoods of today’s independent tire dealers and their suppliers depend on the work, talent, and technical intuition of the next generation.

We want to make sure they are recognized for their developing talent in our industry. Why Gen Y? Because they deserve it.    ■

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at [email protected].

To read more of Bob Ulrich's editorials, click:

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About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.