On the Rise: John Ziegler III

Nov. 1, 2020

John Ziegler III

Regional Manager - Sales/Operations | Ziegler Tire & Supply Co. | Age: 35

What was your first job in the industry?

At 14 years old I was cleaning bathrooms and shops at various retail stores around the company. I worked Saturdays and summers in the retail stores until I graduated from college. I started full time at age 22 as the warehouse manager of our distribution center in Monroe, Ohio.

What attracted you to the industry?

I have been around tires my entire life. My first sandbox was an OTR tire with a tarp underneath! Every son looks up to their dad and wants to do what their dad does to a point. I always knew I wanted to make an impact in my family's business and follow in the footsteps of my great grandfather, grandfather and father.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?

Being a Ziegler is most certainly a blessing, but at times a curse. You are held to a much higher standard, and everyone is always looking to you to guide the ship. In my early career, I struggled with the fact everyone was looking up to me, when all I wanted to do was blend in, do my job, and go home. I had to learn pretty quickly that you need the “first one in, last one to leave” mentality.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career?

I have had a lot of managers and colleagues I have learned a lot from, but certainly my dad has had the most influence on my career. He taught me to always do the right thing, even if it's the hardest thing to do. Without integrity, you have nothing! We have never worked directly with each other, so I am always asking about his side of the business, and vice-versa.

What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?

I would just say being a part of my family's heritage, and trying to carry on our name into the next generation. I like to think I don't treat my employees like I am any better than them. I always joke the biggest thing the Ziegler name gives me is excellent job security -- everything else needs to be earned. I am so proud of where I have come from, and hope to continue the growth.

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

Currently I am the sales and operations manager for six of our commercial locations. My work day involves making trips into my six stores, as well as offering support via phone and e-mail to the other stores. I work closely with my managers and sales staff to ensure they are getting the support needed. I also spend a day or two a week at the corporate office.  

What did you do before you entered the tire industry?

Nothing. I started in our stores at age 14 working Saturdays and summers during high school and college. Five days after my college graduation I started my full-time career. I moved to Cincinnati and was put into the role of the warehouse manager at our commercial center and retread plant.

Aside from the basics like health insurance, what’s the most important perk/benefit you’d want from your employer?

Vacation time. I believe it’s very important to take a break sometimes. The tire industry really gets into your blood. At times, you need to just step away for a week or long weekend and recharge the battery.

What’s the biggest issue facing the tire industry?

Finding quality replacement technicians. More and more people are going to college, so the quality hourly workforce is quickly diminishing. Very few younger people want to make a career out of changing tires or turning wrenches, even though you can make a great living doing it. We have been very fortunate to have a lot of “lifers’ at Ziegler Tire, but finding quality replacements for road technicians is very difficult.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to my beautiful wife Kelly since June of 2015. She is the treasurer of a school district in Delaware, Ohio. We have three great kids, Amelia is 4, John IV is 2, and Tommy was just born in August of 2020. Also, can’t forget our dog Molly is 8. Kelly and I have been very blessed with three great kids, as well as four loving and supportive parents to help guide us through becoming parents to three kids in four years.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

My entire extended family goes to Hilton Head every July. Some of my favorite memories as a child were there. From riding waves to spending hours in the pool, I always looked forward to that week all year. As we got a little older, we would golf two or three times that week as well on some beautiful courses down there. Now being able to take my kids down and have them start making the same memories is really cool.

It’s report card time. What grade would you give yourself for how you’ve handled 2020?

I would give myself a solid B+. Like everyone, it was a very strenuous time both personally and professionally. It certainly made you really digest everything getting thrown your way, as opposed to reacting immediately. That always has not been my cup of tea, but I am proud of the way I remained composed in some situations where in the past I may have acted. Not to say I practiced what I preached every day, but I think I did a pretty good job of remaining constant.

What’s been your biggest challenge this year?

Just trying to stay calm and collected. There were many things that wanted to make you lose your edge, but staying relaxed and taking the time to analyze the issue at hand has been vital to surviving the last six months. When things are feeling like they are crumbling around you and your stores, people were looking at me as their leader and I had to try and steer them in the right direction.

Did you pick up any new hobbies or habits during the pandemic? Good or bad, tell us about them.

Nothing in particular. I tried to play as much golf as I could. We were still working in the office and stores every day, so I didn’t have the time at home that a lot of the country had in the last six months. My wife was pregnant the entire lockdown, so we had to stay pretty low key through the last six months.

What song do you crank up loud and always sing along to?

I was raised in a Bruce Springsteen household, so if “Born to Run”, “Glory Days”, or really anything from the Boss comes on, there is a pretty good chance I’ll be singing along!

Tell us something about yourself others might not know.

I am just a big teddy bear. I have the stature of one that has been in a few mix ups, but I have never hurt a fly. I am usually the one trying to play peacemaker.  

If you could wake up tomorrow with one new skill, what would it be?

I sure wish I was a better home fix-it guy! I have come a long way, but there are things around the house I want to be more comfortable fixing. My wife would appreciate it as well, as opposed to me yelling at myself in the next room and having to call her dad for help.  

What keeps you up at night?

Currently, my 2 month old!  But in general, just knowing that we have over 400 employees relying on me and my family to help support them and their families. Ziegler Tire has always had the philosophy if you take care of us and do your job, you should not have to worry about us taking care of you. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure we are taking care of our people. Without our employees, Ziegler Tire ceases to exist.  I feel the pressure of making sure our employees are in a good place.

In a single word, how would your friends describe you?

Social. I am always the one who wants to get people together or book a tee time for the boys on the weekends. I have always been good at staying in touch with friends over the years. I use my drive home from work each day to catch up with friends and family I have not talked to in awhile. I just love talking to people!

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

Helping to run or running my family’s business. We have been family owned for 101 years, and I do not plan on that changing under my watch! Tires are in my blood, and hopefully I will have the opportunity to continue that family tradition of carrying on this company.