On the Rise: Bradley Youngdahl

Nov. 1, 2021

Bradley Youngdahl

Supply Chain Business Manager | American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) | Age: 27

What was your first job in the industry? 

My first job in the industry and out of college was at ATD as an inventory analyst. In this position my primary responsibility was to help optimize our inventory portfolio, allowing ATD to help ensure our customers have the broadest selection of product where and when they need it. This allowed me to partner with some of ATD’s most knowledgeable tire experts who I was able to learn from as I began to understand the industry and build my tire knowledge.

What attracted you to the industry?

I was attracted to the innovation and opportunity that’s happening in the industry. With the ever-changing environment we’re in, there’s an increased focus on building and maintaining an agile supply chain that continuously challenges and excites me. At the same time, it provides an opportunity to drive improvements within ATD’s overall supply chain. In addition, the increased role that data and analytics are playing allows us to better service our customers while also eliminating inefficiencies throughout our supply chain.

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

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is evolving from an individual contributor to a manager and leader of others. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many great leaders invest in me over the years and allow me to learn from them. Today, I’m hoping to pay it forward by being a leader for others and encouraging them to be the best they can be.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career? 

The person who had the biggest influence on my career was one of my first bosses, Maria. She was someone who instilled confidence in me and created an environment that I could thrive in. Above all, she demonstrated compassion, encouraged creativity and was willing to adapt to new ideas, which to me are all key traits a leader needs to have.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry? 

My biggest accomplishment in the industry so far is being a part of the team that created ATD’s new third-party logistics (3PL) company. Change management is always challenging, but knowing the amount of effort, collaboration and communication that was needed to create the 3PL company is a source of pride for me and accelerated my development as a leader. Through the company, we’ve delivered over three million tires on behalf of our manufacturing partners thanks to ATD’s massive nationwide footprint of 113 distribution centers. The existing infrastructure, analytics and knowledge of the industry has helped us differentiate ATD’s 3PL company from more traditional 3PLs within the automotive space.

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

I spend most of my workday problem solving. Consistently issues seem to arise that are urgent or will negatively impact us down the road. Apart from that the rest of my day is spent in meetings, driving forward projects and communicating cross functionally with our external or internal partners.

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

I wish someone would have told me that setbacks are to be expected and to be able to mentally prepare myself for that. Initially setbacks were extremely frustrating for me personally and to be able to mentally prepare myself would have greatly benefitted me.

Tell us about your family.

My family is incredibly important to me. My mom and dad were two of the most influential people in my life not only because of the values they instilled in me such as hard work, discipline and respect but because of the other great people they surrounded me with. My grandparents were also huge influences in my life. I have many fond memories of being with my grandparents growing a garden on our farm and going to sell watermelons and other fruits in the summer. Lastly, I have two furry family members, my dogs who I love being able to spend time with.

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

I learned how mentally tough I was, being able to navigate all of the challenges that arose in the pandemic was not easy and to be able to come out of it stronger than when I started is something I’m very proud of myself for.

Name a talent you wish you had.

I wish I had more athleticism and could dunk a basketball. That’s something I’ve always thought is amazing to watch — people and professional athletes float through the air and dunk.

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?

I try to recover from a stressful day with exercise, reading or cooking. Those three things I’ve found are great stress relievers for me and positively impact myself mentally and physically in the short and long term.

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

My favorite book I’ve read lately is part of The Witcher series called ‘The Time of Contempt.’ I really enjoy being able to read fiction books as they allow you to forget about any stress that you have in your current life and allow you to imagine a different world that’s far different from your own. With the Witcher specifically I am a huge fan of the games and the TV shows and really enjoy The Witcher universe.

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

I don’t listen to any podcast consistently, but without a doubt my favorite podcasts to listen to at the moment are ones related to fantasy football. I’ve always been a huge football fan and really enjoy the strategy aspect of fantasy.

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

I would have earned a gold medal through tennis. I always loved playing the sport and was pretty good when I played in high school. It’s a sport that I’ve enjoyed casually for almost a decade now and really enjoy playing.

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?

The biggest issue today is the labor shortage throughout the industry as well as supporting industries such as trucking, international shipping, and manufacturing. Not being able to attract and retain qualified and passionate talent is going to negatively affect the industry in the short and long term.

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

The advice I would give to find good employees is be sure your current employees are treated with respect and feel valued within the organization. Be sure you retain your current talent by providing opportunities for career growth and the ability to learn new skills. People want to find employers who have built a positive and healthy environment for their employees and if you can do that I believe good employees will join.

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

Twenty years from now I’d love to be running a supply chain department. Supply chain is something I’m very passionate about and being able to be the leader of an entire department and train the next generation of leaders is something I greatly want.