What was your first job in the industry?
My first title was national account sales specialist at the Goodyear commercial store in Portland. Starting out my responsibilities included retreading, delivering tires, and making sales. The variety of tasks gave me a glimpse into the entire operation of the center. My first accounts were Con-Way, USF, YRC, Fedex, Schneider and Tire Factory (Point S). These accounts demanded accuracy of paperwork and product, as well as regular fleet surveys. I was able to learn about the cradle to grave life cycle of a tire and subsequent retreads, which became an integral part of my interaction with clients.
What attracted you to the industry?
When I first began working at Goodyear, I knew little about the tire industry. What I did know at that point was that I enjoyed customer service. I soon found myself working with freight haulers, retreads, and national and government accounts. I realized I had a great deal to learn but was excited about gaining experience in the tire industry and developing relationships with customers and clients.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
Knowing how to respond during a customer inquiry in a way that satisfies the end user of our product can be very challenging. We assist with a variety of tire applications, from commercial and RV tires to passenger and light truck tires. One of the best ways to improve customer experience is having a service provider supported by a team of experts who know the best practices when handling tires. I am a part of Goodyear's Product Service Team, and as a team we are continually improving our understanding of tires and service to assist in communicating the best practices to service providers. This education comes from training we receive from the Goodyear manufacturing team and also training from manufacturers of alignment and mounting and balancing equipment. We educate our clients through user-friendly concepts and unique training tools we have developed. Some of our education focuses are tire storage, steps in lubricating, seating beads, proper balancer utilization, and matching customer expectations with the appropriate product. Along with educational presentations we also provide dealers with in-store hands on training. Through these efforts we can help dealers give their customers the best in tire performance and customer satisfaction.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I get to work with some great people at Goodyear who have given me tools to excel in my field and brought me to where I am today. Everyone at the Goodyear Commercial Sales and Service Center in Portland has always supported me. Terry Morehouse taught me the customer always comes first. Mike Haney and Peter Christoffersen have empowered me with opportunities I never thought possible, like obtaining my master’s degree and working at Goodyear’s Shanghai office.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Earning my MBA from Concordia University has been my biggest accomplishment in recent years. After two years of education I was able to spend six weeks working at Goodyear's headquarters in Shanghai, China. There I shared tea with clients across the region and toured Goodyear's state-of-the-art tire plant in Pulandian. The sales market in China is unique from our own here in the U.S., and learning about international commercial and retail sales was invaluable. This additional education brought me to my current position as Goodyear’s Northwest Product Service Manager. In this role I have enjoyed working with yet another side of the tire industry, while continuing to learn more about it each day.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
When I first started working at Goodyear a regional manager asked how long I thought I would stay employed by Goodyear. My response was 15 years, which was a long time for me as a recent graduate. We discussed further that prior to my generation it would be normal to have a job with a single company for an entire career. I was told in college that I would have at least 4 jobs throughout my career. I am enjoying my second position with Goodyear enough to see myself working in this role for a long time, I may even try to live up to the baby boomers generational standards, at least some of them.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
From my point of view, at the retail store level, the biggest challenge I notice is employee skill development. The ability to diagnose tire, wheel, and vehicle ride conditions comes from training or tenure. The challenge is employee retention and or training. This stems from turnover at the tire technician level and lack of in-depth onboard training.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
Don’t call yourself a tire expert, there is too much that you will never know about tires. I have learned where to go to get the information I need, but I will always have to rely on other people within the industry to get all the answers.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
There are lots of different roles you can take in the tire industry, which is a great way to reach your employment objectives. The variety of jobs offered could be from a technician, mechanic, or driver to sales, management, accounting, or IT. For Goodyear-owned stores or warehouses the application process is online. But for some of our dealers it’s still best to physically show up and ask if they are hiring.
Tell us about your family.
I can only try to keep up with the active members of my family. I out kicked my coverage and married a dentist, who enjoys flying trapeze as an exercise. We have two dachshunds that are always ready to go for a walk, or dig a hole to China.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I was very fortunate to purchase an older home built in 1888; the work it requires for upkeep keeps us busy. We are also learning about the family who built it.
I recently borrowed a stand-up paddleboard and have been taking that to the river for fun on the weekend. It’s easier than it looks, and a great way to explore the waterways around Portland.
What keeps you up at night?
From a work standpoint nothing keeps me up at night. I used to be worried all the time about upcoming events or interactions I would have, but over time I have learned that sleep is part of being my best so I am able to let it go and get some shut eye.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
You may not know that I grew up without a TV. I really like oldies, because I would sometimes use the radio for entertainment, when I wasn’t outside. I also have fond memories listening to Dave Niehaus call the Seattle Mariners baseball games.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have a few. I’ll start with ice cream. If you can't come to Portland to try the ice cream in person, then try the Tillamook mudslide at your grocer; if you are in Portland then stop by Cloud City, or Salt and Straw. They won’t let you down. I have always liked old memorabilia from manufacturers, even before I started working at Goodyear, but now I keep my eyes open for Goodyear pins, air gauges, or ashtrays. I really like the old Kelly Springfield tire signs, but haven't gone to the wallet for one of those yet.
Name a talent you wish you had.
If I could hold a tune my dealers would really appreciate that as I tend to sing while I am inspecting tires. No one complains on my lonely car rides but it would be fun to think I could sing.
What’s your favorite food?
At this point in my life it would have to be coffee, I grew up in the Northwest, so I guess it’s just in my DNA to drink coffee. I am part of a large group of people who considers coffee a food. It costs as much as a meal anyway.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Thomas Alva Edison is who I would have dinner with. Just the amount of ideas in his head at one given time would be fascinating to discuss.
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?
If my employer took my cell phone away, I may not ask for it back, although I would still have a computer and thus could still get voice mail. I bet I could make it a few weeks, then I could justify buying it back. The amount of information for the industry through websites or apps is outstanding.