On the Rise: Carson Cornelius

Nov. 1, 2022

Carson Cornelius 

Chief Operating Officer | Zurcher Tire, Inc. | Age: 35

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

As chief operating officer I spend most of my day working with our leadership teams to refine logistical processes, collaborating with our department leaders on directions of our organization, reviewing marketing strategies, and handling other special projects. 

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

Everything you think is a constant will change. Everything you expect to change will change more rapidly than you can imagine. 

Tell us about your family. 

I’m blessed to be able to work with family. It was my father, with whom I still work, that got me into the tire industry. Nothing makes me prouder than my children and their achievements, even the small ones. I have two children, Ethan and Abigail, and my life outside of work is being involved with them in their various and numerous activities. 

How do you recover from a bad or stressful day? 

I like to watch sports or play sports. My favorite sport is hockey. I play ice hockey and roller hockey. Nothing helps with a stressful day or week more than playing roller hockey with my son on our street. 

Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry. 

I wish the average American cared for their tires as much as we do. Tires are integral to vehicle performance, fuel economy, safety, and when properly maintained tires can help us reduce consumption. We see too many tires that don’t make it to the end of their useful life due to neglect of suspension components or improper inflation. I shouldn’t complain about the additional replacement opportunities, but tires only have so many uses when their life on vehicles ends. 

If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why? 

I don’t know if Doug Armstrong, General Manager of the St. Louis Blues, counts as a celebrity, but he would be my choice. Doug Armstrong has been in the management and creation of winning organizations for decades at the highest level of competition. I’d love to learn as much as possible about creating the winning teams and cultures of success. Doug Armstrong has been successful building multiple teams that won championships in the National Hockey League, as well as putting together championship squads for the Canadian national program. I’d try and glean as much as possible from him on building successful teams. I’d probably sneak in some questions about the Blues as well. 

Name a talent you wish you had. 

Patience. I’m always working on being more patient and listening more before responding. 

What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today? 

I think the biggest issue facing the industry is the lack of nearer sources for manufacturing our products. Disruption of the supply of tires from other parts of the world during the pandemic taught us a lot about the value of having tires made closer to us. The other significant challenge is getting new materials with which we can build quality tires. Our reliance on natural rubber from rubber trees for tire production places the product in a vulnerable position when there is volatility in the few areas that can grow rubber trees.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately

Most of my reading has been biographies. Specifically, I really enjoyed the Ron Chernow biography of Ulysses S. Grant. It gave me a greater appreciation for Grant’s talents, trials and contributions as a general and a president. I don’t know that Grant is that well known, but he was a very important figure in keeping our country united.

If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest? 

Keep looking. It’s not easy, but don’t settle when you do find someone. Make sure the people you have in your organization are the right people with the right attitude. Less people with the right attitude will do better than more people with the wrong attitudes. You must always be recruiting now. You must be prepared to do it in ways you haven’t done before. Keep looking for the right people and take care of them when you find them. 

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

I hope to be selling tires and serving people.