On the Rise: Alicia Abercrombie Koehler

Nov. 1, 2021

Alicia Abercrombie Koehler

Director of Operations | American Omni Trading Co. | Age: 38

What was your first job in the industry?

This job! I have been with AOT since 2005. It was my first “big girl” job out of college, and I started out as a sales assistant to Chris Brackin, who at that time, was a domestic sales manager handling our business for Dunlap & Kyle.

What attracted you to the industry?

The people! I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be working in the tire industry. Everyone, including customers and team members, was so eager to teach me what they knew. I absorbed so much within my first year and had the opportunity to develop strong working relationships with so many throughout the business. I will always be indebted to all of those that I interacted with that took the time to teach me!

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?

The unknown. In my 16 years, we have faced anti-dumping duties on our products, Section 301 duties, logistic and freight challenges, supply shortages, and COVID-19. Many of the obstacles are ones we do not always see coming or have little control over. It makes running our business operations a challenge at times, but also keeps my days busy and allows me room for creativity on how to overcome them.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

Tom Brackin and Chris Brackin. Tom Brackin taught me what it takes to start and run a successful business. Both of which I knew nothing about 16 years ago. Chris Brackin taught me — and continues to teach me — what it takes to grow a business.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?

My biggest accomplishment is growing our sales support teams over the years. I had the privilege of starting and growing our customer service team, as well as building our order management and processing teams in our domestic and international offices. The team members I have had the opportunity to work closely with have been so incredibly rewarding. I have been successful because of those around me. We all share the same values, vision and drive!

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

Currently, I handle operations at AOT which includes providing guidance and direction to logistics, supply chain, order management, order processing, foreign operations, pricing and customer service.  I work closely aligning our key company objectives with our departmental objectives, in order to accomplish our overall goal of making importing easy!

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

It’s all about relationship building!

Tell us about your family.

I have an amazing, supportive husband and we have been married since 2014. (12-13-14)  I secretly picked that date so I would always remember our anniversary. I guess it won’t be much of a secret now!

We have two feisty, strong-willed and loving children.  Kora, who is 5 and just started kindergarten and Kolt, who is almost 2!  Both are my greatest joys in life, and being a mother has definitely shaped who I am today.  We have a very close tribe full of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and close friends whom we spend time with often.  We love to travel together and make memories with all of our kiddos!

What did you learn about yourself in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic?

How resilient and adaptable I am. I juggled many things during the height of the pandemic in order to keep our family safe, as well as my team safe. Changes sometimes happened often, and although behind the scenes may have been chaos, it was always very important to me to maintain some resemblance of stability.

Name a talent you wish you had.

I wish I could play the piano!  I still am not sure why I never learned — I did music all through high school and into college.

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?

With two small children, there is not a ton of time to “recover” from a stressful day!  Once I arrive home I go from handling operations at AOT to handling operations at the Koehler kasa! Recovering from a difficult day means getting the kids to bed a little earlier to leave more time for me to watch House Hunters on HGTV.

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

I’m re-reading Jim Collins’, Good to Great.  I always pick up something new when I read it over.  I highly recommend it.

What’s your favorite, can’t-miss podcast?

CRIME JUNKIE! It’s my go-to podcast when I’m driving home, or working on a project at the office.

If you won an Olympic gold medal, how would you have earned it? (You can make up a sport.)

Juggling.  I seem to always have a lot of things in the air that I’m tackling.  Somehow, someway, the majority of the time, I keep them all up in the air!

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?

Freight and supply chain issues. The freight situation we are in now is unprecedented, and has given us little time to react. 

What advice would you give to tire dealers who are desperate to find good employees?

My advice would be to actually focus on your current top talent.  Be flexible. Give grace. Treat them with respect and regard. Invest in them and their skill set. You’ll keep those good ones, and they will attract others behind them.

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

Hopefully, I am retired and traveling as much as possible.  I also hope to be in a teaching/mentor role so that I can give back what I have been given over the years in advice, wisdom and guidance.