Quality team manager | Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. | Topeka, Kan. | Age: 35
What was your first job in the industry?
After college I was hired by Goodyear for their manufacturing leadership development program in Lawton, Okla. This provided me with the opportunity to learn the multifaceted processes in their manufacturing operations. It was integral to my development, as I was afforded the opportunity to learn every aspect of tire manufacturing from the chemical compounding in the mixing department all the way through the process to a final tire ready for the road.
What attracted you to the industry?
Initially it was the universality that intrigued me. I mean, most vehicles have tires of some sort, and with Goodyear being an industry leader I knew that the 100 years of tire manufacturing experience they had would be an excellent environment to develop my nascent career. Their stability and product innovation would be unrivaled in the industry.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
COVID-19 provided challenges throughout the country and Goodyear was no exception. The shutdown and daily uncertainty provided unparalleled challenges. As a leader in the mixing department, I was tasked with keeping the team focused and constantly facilitating two-way communication to ease the uncertainty and drive morale in a dynamic environment. This was essential as we transitioned from a complete shutdown to ramping up production with many of the COVID protocols in place. The focus on communication — increased frequency, bidirectional, informative and motivational, allowed us to keep the team safe and on track with a positive outlook in a very trying time in their personal and professional lives. I am proud of my role as an anchor to provide safety and stability to my team by being a strong leader that led by example when there were no examples to emulate in this extremely unique situation.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence on my career was hands down Chuck Fornicola. As my mentor he showed me how to detach from a problem to enable me to get an objective and unbiased view of the situation. This is a lesson that I have learned and has become a core part of my management style. The ability to see issues from as many points of view as possible affords us a more synergistic solution to employ. Thirteen years later, Chuck remains available and continues to develop me as a person as well as a professional.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment to date is in the mixing department. New compounds being developed require more complex mixing cycles. During this innovative process I was able to orchestrate my team to work in concert with each other, with corporate compounders, vendors and other manufacturing facilities to successfully implement the innovative requirements of the new product. Our result was better physicals and no discernible impact to the cycle times of our plant. This project spanned two years and comprised hard work and dedication from all involved to succeed on such a high level.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your workday?
I am currently responsible for the quality of the build, cure and final finish areas of the Topeka plant Radial Truck Business Center. I spend my day ensuring the quality of systems and improving plant key process indicators.
What's been the biggest surprise of your current job?
Having recently moved from mixing to radial truck, the biggest surprise was I have been able to use my mixing knowledge to better explain why certain aspects of the compounds affect the radial truck business.
Tell us about your family.
I have been married for the past 14 years to my wonderful wife and we have two sons, ages 7 and 4. They keep me busy with all the sports and activities.
If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill, what would you choose?
I would choose the ability to draft things in CAD. I see more use of 3D printing in the industry, and being able to design objects from the ground up could come in handy not only for work functions but making items for costumes for the kids.
In a single word, how would your friends describe you?
If you could switch jobs for a day, what job/who would you choose to swap with, and why?
I would want to switch roles with Brad Heim, vice president of quality, because he gets to have a higher-level view of the quality of Goodyear products and the solutions to the challenges we are facing. Having a day in his role would allow me to bring that perspective back to the team while affording me an opportunity to determine if I would aspire to hold that role one day.
What's the biggest issue facing the tire industry?
The biggest issue I see facing the tire industry is the increase in customer expectations. Whether it be through rolling resistance, appearance, connectivity with the vehicle, renewable tire, non-pneumatic — each of these expectations requires us to keep pushing innovation and not settle for the status quo.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid I always loved animals, so I always planned on being a veterinarian. It wasn’t until high school that my passion for chemistry developed, so when both of my brothers went to college for engineering then I decided to follow in their footsteps.
What goal did you set for yourself this year? Are you on track to reach it?
I challenged myself personally to get more active this year. I’m an avid hockey fan, but had never played before. I decided to attend a hockey fantasy camp back in April of this year. What a thrill! Now I have completed a summer season and look forward to the fall season.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Twenty years from now I expect to still be working for Goodyear in a higher-level quality role. I have enjoyed working in quality and the tire industry specifically and I am excited to continue my journey.