On the Rise: Steve Campanella

Nov. 1, 2017

Steve Campanella

Director of Business Solutions | Alliance Tire Americas| Age: 28

What was your first job in the industry?

My first position in the tire industry was the business intelligence manager at Alliance Tire Americas. The role was a new one for the company and focused on developing processes for pricing strategy, competitor research, studying general market trends, and financial analysis for sales and marketing programs.

What attracted you to the industry?

I started looking for a job in the Boston area once I decided to move from Connecticut. I had been working in personal insurance on product management and pricing analytics for three years, but wanted to dive more into marketing and business intelligence for a tangible product. I assumed if Insurance could turn out to be interesting through analytics, then tires could be as well, and I’ve loved the tire industry ever since.

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

The biggest challenge I have faced and continue to face is testing the established “tire-guy” way of making decisions that are typically based more on gut feelings than quantitative analysis. I have enormous respect for the men and women who have built this business and I am working to develop data-driven strategies to support their experience and insight. I believe this is the way for our company to take our success to the next level and ensure many more years of strong market presence.

As part of my belief in data-driven decision making, over the past two years I have been vice chairman, and now chairman, of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) Agriculture Tire Statistics Committee. This has helped me earn respect inside my company and across the industry, which is especially helpful when I have to defend my recommendations in pricing strategy meetings.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I’ve been lucky to have many people mentor me through the early stages of my career, but the two that stand out at this moment are Dhaval Nanavati, president of Alliance Tire Group’s South America business and a vice president of U.S. aftermarket sales, and Bob Arnold, Alliance’s other U.S. aftermarket sales vice president. They have both been integral to my success with Alliance and my growth in the tire industry. They have pushed me to learn as much as possible with great exposure to all departments of our company, helping me to become an asset in many of the high-level and day-to-day tactical discussions that keep our business moving forward. Bob’s market and product knowledge is top of his class and I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned from him to be more effective in my role. Dhaval’s analytical and creative support has driven me to think differently about business in general and also be more inventive with proposals to drive company sales. Both Bob and Dhaval have pushed me to consider new angles in the industry and how my role fits in, as well as driving me to take on more to expand my reach. 

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?

My biggest accomplishment in this industry so far has been leading the revival of the AEM Agriculture Tire Statistics Committee. This committee has been in place for years, but fell off the priority list for many manufacturers. When I joined Alliance, I immediately saw the value this committee could provide our industry.

I, along with other members of the committee and the AEM staff, started holding regular meetings to kick start it again and reinstate accurate and timely reporting from our members. We have re-engaged the member companies and re-instilled confidence in the data. I’ve been able to use this data to design sales and marketing programs for Alliance that have led to remarkable growth in targeted market segments. Currently I am the chairman of this committee, and am leading the creation of a Construction Tire Statistics Committee to provide similar value for the construction/industrial equipment tire market.

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

Most of my days are spent analyzing competitor pricing versus ours, developing pricing and marketing programs to help spur sales, working on financial analytics to make sure our programs make money, and talking with our field sales team to see what else we can do to help with pricing and product in the market. I also enjoy strategizing with the management team on better ways to position and sell our product. I am typically very busy and am frequently buried in Excel files, industry reports, and email exchanges with the sales team.

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

In 20 years I’d like to be in a leadership role with a good balance between work and the rest of my life. I would want time for what I am truly passionate about in life – fitness, mentoring children, and family. While I take pride in my career and am ambitious, there are many things other than work that matter as much or even more.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?

The advancement of technology has created confusion with the best way to market and communicate to a market that is full of knowledgeable people who grew up without computers, email, and cell phones. Manufacturers and dealers are trying to reach the full range of potential customers but the older generation generally wants face-to-face interaction or printed materials while the younger generation needs everything in an email or on their cell phone.

What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?

I wish someone warned me about how difficult it is to pinpoint market pricing. This industry is unlike anything I expected, with deals constantly being made and competitor pricing becoming even more difficult to confirm. I have learned to love the ever-changing landscape but it was a steep learning curve to begin with. I now embrace the madness. 

What class(es) do you wish you had paid more attention to in high school?

U.S. history. I didn’t enjoy reading back then and the information was too dense for me to grasp. I now enjoy reading and learning about our country’s history. I’ll put on a history documentary whenever I come across one.  

What’s the worst cliché or generalization made about your generation?

That we are all entitled and spoiled. I grew up believing that if you wanted something then you had to work for it. And if you didn’t get it then you needed to work harder. I take pride in my commitment and work ethic and believe it has gotten me to where I am today. I have a quote from Pittsburg Steelers’ Hall of Fame coach, Chuck Noll, hanging in my office: “Good things happen to those who hustle.” I’m not a Steelers fan but the quote is a good one.

Tell us about your family.

I grew up in a loving family with my mother and father and two brothers. I am the middle child and have enjoyed sports with my brothers and traveling as a family. We have always had pets and I look forward to visits home to see our labradoodle, Stella.

What’s your favorite weekend activity?

Working out and then celebrating with a nice big meal at a new restaurant. 

What keeps you up at night?

I don’t sleep very much as it is, but typically when I am up at night it is because there are work or personal tasks that I still need to take care of. I have to-do lists all over my apartment.

How do you encourage others to enter the industry?

I was hesitant about the tire industry originally when I knew nothing about it. But after three years I’ve realized that data analytics and marketing and pricing strategy can make any industry or product exciting. The tire business has been great to me and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a new challenge.

Tell us something about yourself others might not know.

I am painfully afraid of heights but I have been skydiving! I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, during my junior year of college and took a trip to Switzerland. I didn’t think there was any better way to squash my fear then to jump out of a helicopter at 14,000 feet above the ground while staring at the Swiss Alps. I am still afraid of heights but I enjoyed the thrill and personal challenge to myself. My mother still to this day will watch the YouTube clip of it if she needs a good laugh. 

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Fantasy football. It becomes a part-time job for me during the season and I love all of the stress and late nights of research that it brings. It’s fun to wake up at 3 a.m. on Wednesdays to snag all of the free agents before the rest of the league wakes up. I am very competitive and do not like to lose. 

Name a talent you wish you had.

I wish I could play the drums. I’ve dreamt of being in a band and I still think the drummer is typically the coolest one in the group. 

What’s your favorite food?

Cheese. It doesn’t matter if it is by itself, on something, in something, or next to something. Everything is better with cheese!

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Albert Einstein. I think he could teach me a thing or two.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I played year-round soccer as a young kid, up until eighth grade when I tried other sports to get ready for high school. My father was primarily the one to drive or fly with me to games and tournaments and training sessions. I loved all of the time we spent together seeing different parts of the country. One day I hope to give that same gift of personal time to my son or daughter. It really helped us bond from an early age.

If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?

It would be a huge stress-reliever for me so I think I would last quite a while. Maybe a month or two. That seems like forever in this day and age. I would enjoy it!

Other than your cell phone, what’s a tool you must have to get through a work day?

My first thought was my car because I have to drive to work every day. But other than that I would say a watch. I feel incomplete without one on.