What was your first job in the industry?
My role as marketing manager for Levin Tire & Service Centers is my first in the tire industry. I’ve also taken over the management of our IT infrastructure.
What attracted you to the industry?
The tire industry is completely different than any other industry I’ve worked in. Previously, I worked in marketing in the golf and casino industries, so transitioning to the tire and automotive service industry has been interesting. I want to learn more about the tire industry, outside of marketing and IT. The more I understand about what happens at the front counter, how we order tires, and our relationships with vendors, the better I’ll be able to forecast trends and tailor our marketing messages to bring people through the doors.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
The instability of the economy in our area has been a big challenge. People are doing more with less, and tires and auto service aren’t at the forefront in their minds when it comes to what they want to spend their hard-earned dollars on. We’re focusing on safety and run-life in our tire marketing, and we’ve rolled out an entry line of tires at a lower price point, which seems to resonate with our audience.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Jeff Russell, our general manager, has been a huge influence. He’s got 20 years of experience in the industry, so his mentorship has been key to my development. Jeff knows what works, yet he trusts me to take calculated risks, and we’ve collaborated on a marketing plan that will take our stores to the next level.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
We’ve stayed strong on tire sales, even during slowdowns. We can’t offer the huge rebates and discounts that the larger tire chains can, and we’re working with much smaller budgets, so mass media advertising isn’t a wise use of our marketing dollars. We’ve had to get creative not only in our marketing, but also in our inventory management, and it’s paying off in sales.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I am fully committed to my path at Levin Tire & Service Center and expect to become both a part owner and either the general manager or assistant general manager. If I wasn’t at Levin Tire in 20 years, the only explanation would be one of my ideas or inventions sold, and I didn’t have to work anymore.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
The biggest issue today is creating awareness about tire safety and the importance of tires to the consumer. The advertising realm is packed with messages about experiences and gratification, and it is hard to make the customer realize that the amount of money they could spend on tires to keep their family safe is far more beneficial than a new cellphone or computer.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
I came into the industry after some time spent in the golf industry and was a little nervous because I didn’t have any experience in the tire industry. I quickly learned that the tire industry was much like the golf industry, except backwards. In the tire industry we bulk up our advertising in the winter and are hoping for winter weather and unfavorable conditions so the consumer feels the need for new tires. In golf, it was the exact opposite, we were hoping for warmer weather as early and late into the year as possible so more people would start golfing and seeing the need for new equipment. The challenges that I faced in the golf industry helped me quickly avoid the nervousness of how to be a better marketer in the tire industry.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
By letting them know that it will take a lot of work to look at the industry and know what is working, what hasn’t worked, or what hasn’t been tried. There is a perfect formula out there that will make the consumer put tires front of mind, but we just need that new fresh outlook on how to make that messaging the most effective.
Tell us about your family.
My immediate family is my older sister, Jill, my father, Paul, and my mother, Gayle. Both of my parents have remarried, and my father has had two more children, which added my little brother, Gerik, and little sister, Teagan. We all live relatively close to each other, no farther than 20 minutes in any direction. I am engaged to my fiancée, Lindsay, who I met at a previous job five years ago. We recently purchased our first home and are planning a September 2017 wedding.
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I have two favorite weekend activities. On Saturdays, we enjoy taking our little fishing boat out and spending a few hours on the lake away from traffic and noise. On Sundays, I play golf with my father and his friends.
What keeps you up at night?
I am able to fall asleep very easily at night. My brain runs all day long and hits empty at about 9 p.m. every night. I don’t watch TV or try and be on my cellphone for the next hour to help me fall asleep. It’s a tough transition to go right from TV to sleep. The only time I can’t sleep is before I leave for vacation the next morning.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
I used to be heavily involved in the punk rock music scene when I was in high school and college. I would be at multiple shows every week and would take small road trips to see some of my favorite bands. I feel it surprises people when they find that out because I am mild mannered and dress the business casual part. Deep down there was a very edgy kid, though.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
When I am heading home from a certain way at night I always feel inclined to stop at the Culver’s on the way to grab a quick ice cream cone for the rest of the drive home. Usually I finish it in time by the time I get home so I don’t have to feel guilty about not getting one for my fiancée since she doesn’t know.
Name a talent you wish you had.
I wish I could play the piano. I envy the people who are hotel lobby rock stars that can just sit down and play all genres of music. It also becomes a great time to sing along with friends.
What’s your favorite food?
Lobster from Ron of Japan in Chicago, Ill. They have an egg yolk sauce that they put on it that is to die for.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Joe Maddon, manager for the Chicago Cubs. His laid back, open door, friendly attitude just seems like he would have some great insight on past experiences as well as future predictions for the sports realm. It also helps that he is the manager of my favorite baseball team so maybe he would bring a guest or two with him.
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 could last a long time without a cell phone if I needed to. I would only be pressured to pay the ransom by my family members, fiancée, and general manager at work so they could reach me.