What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was an intern for the Tire Industry Association. I started at the bottom stuffing envelopes, typing letters, and any other papers that needed pushing around the office.
What attracted you to the industry?
I became attracted to the tire industry because of the family atmosphere and those small businesses that I get to represent every day in Washington. The tire industry is ever-changing and an exciting field to be in. There are always new technologies, products, and services. And because of that, every day I learn something new. The tire industry allows those who work hard to have upward mobility and be rewarded for their success.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenge faced in my career was the highway bill and the tire registration provision that came along with it. We were up against big money and a heavy lobbying front. In order to compete, we had to rely on grassroots efforts. We started a petition, organized phone banks, and sent thousands of letters to Washington. This required some very late nights, and swift organization. Thanks to the outreach and support from our members we were able to fight off taxes aimed at our industry and on the last day of a bill, add a provision that calls for a study to be conducted for a new tire registration system.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
The person who has had the biggest impact on my career has been my father, who serves as executive vice president for the association. Every day I learn something new from him. He constantly teaches me how I can better perform at my job while providing me with the institutional history that is so crucial with an association. My father has fought the legislative battles in Washington for decades, defending tire dealers and now I am taking on that fight. My father has made me the man I am today. My father and I have a very professional and working relationship and many days I look at him more as a friend than my father. We respect each other’s opinions and work strongly as a team. We bounce ideas off each other and try to find the best resolutions to issues. He has been my mentor and every day I look forward to coming to work.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
After obtaining my master’s degree in public policy I began moving into government affairs which has led me today to be the director of government affairs for the association. I am responsible for helping to form positions for the industry on a variety of issues. This involves writing position papers that are then sent to all the congressional offices in Washington. These positions are formed by constant communication with our members. In helping to formulate these positions and then to act on the issues, I serve in several coalitions that include the Family Business Coalition, Small Business Legislative Council, the Save LIFO coalition, OSHA/Small Business Roundtable coalition, Highway Users Alliance, and many more. I then communicate to our members these issues and ways they can get involved in our grassroots efforts through our weekly legislative update, monthly state update, and quarterly PAC update. I also help to organize the TirePAC, the political action committee for the association. This helps us to support candidates and elected officials that support us on our issues. I help to organize fundraising efforts at the OTR and GTE conferences through our PAC board, silent auction, and other fundraisers held at our golf tournament. Last year I organized a Federal Lobby Day for TIA members. It was the first lobby day the association had had in a few years. By the end of the day, TIA members collectively made contact with 22 congressional offices, sharing our views, positions, and concerns. The evening concluded with a reception in the Capitol Foyer of the Rayburn building, where TIA in conjunction with other automotive related groups hosted members from the 114th Congress and their staff. Our lobby day focused on the highway bill and potential taxes that would have had a negative impact on the tire industry. Together we made a difference and because of those efforts, no taxes in the highway bill were aimed at our industry. Our lobby day highlighted the power of grassroots efforts.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
In 20 years, I could still see myself in this position, but developing more into an expert in the industry and having years of experiences and legislative battles. I also could see myself advocating for other small businesses in another industry, but either way I do not see myself leaving government affairs and the Washington scene.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Over legislation and regulation. A wrath of legislation and regulations continues to be aimed at our industry and we are combating it on the federal, state, and regulatory levels. We are also being hit hard with Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections, and last year over 40,000 were conducted with heavy fines being issued for inconsequential violations.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
That the industry is ever changing. New technologies, improvements, and investments are always being made. It keeps the industry exciting but there is a lot of keep up on.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
Start from the bottom. With every industry you must find ways to prove yourself then work your way up. I started out as an unpaid intern making photo copies in the office; so find simple ways to get involved and help out. If you work hard, it will be noticed, and you are sure to work your way up. Don’t be afraid to volunteer, while continuing to obtain the training and education needed for what sector of the industry you are interested in.
Tell us about your family.
I am one of three siblings as I am the middle child with two sisters. My older sister has three kids and I love being an uncle. My younger sister currently lives in New York City and is in graduate school. All three of us attended Washington College. My parents have always been very supportive of us and our goals. We are a very close-knit family.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
On the weekends I enjoy kayaking, having a bonfire in my backyard with friends, and playing with my sweet dog Kona.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I played three varsity sports in high school: soccer, basketball, and baseball.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A cold beer after a long day.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I had the ability to read minds. Often in politics it is hard to know what someone is really thinking, and this would certainly be a useful skill in my profession.
What’s your favorite food?
Burgers, will all kinds of good toppings. I enjoy trying new ones when I go to different places.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
George Washington because of his incredible story. I have always had an interest in early American history and I would love to know what he thought about society today and what the real intentions of the founding fathers were. I also attended Washington College, which the first president lent his name to and was part of the founding.
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?
I would wait a few days to enjoy the disconnect, then I would pay it just because it is so much easier to respond to work emails on the go in D.C. instead of waiting to get back to the office on the computer.