My dad, John Kuhar, was a beloved manager who spent almost 40 years working for the same tire and rubber company. Even at age 85, he remains one of my strongest mentors and guides. I will always remember how early in my career, when I was faced with the uncharted territory of building a team and hiring people for the first time, his advice was simple: “Hire someone with the talent to someday surpass you, then train them to do just that.”
Our greatest achievement is helping others achieve. Yet managing a team day to day is no easy task, especially when you have some big personalities involved.
As we head into the NBA finals, I remain impressed by coaches – the way they are able to reign in those super-sized egos, shepherding everyone from the superstars to the benchwarmers to keep pushing for the win.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge sports fan, but I do live in a house full of them. Last weekend while watching ESPN with my family, I realized that I tend to “zone out” during the rhetoric of Steven A. Smith and others like him. Instead, I find myself holding out for the side stories of the underdog – those disadvantaged athletes with the odds stacked against them who overcome adversity to find success, all because someone believed in them.
If there’s anything that can move me to tears it’s the story of a person whose life was changed because of a strong, compassionate coach. Name any sports or career accomplishment and you can usually find a person of influence behind the scenes, helping the assumed underdog navigate through challenging times, pushing them to their full potential, helping them make the appropriate adjustments to ensure success.
LeBron James himself was nearly homeless as a fourth-grader, rescued by his peewee football coach who provided the stability he needed as a foundation for a brighter future. There are countless lesser-known athletes who have accomplished incredible feats, thanks to a special someone who saw more potential in them than they could see in themselves, sparking a passion for beating the odds and finding success.
Who on your team has great potential if given the encouragement, stability and support? What new hires might be nurtured into a career in our industry instead of just a job in it? How are you mentoring and inspiring those around you to push for success each day, expanding their idea of what’s even possible? In other words, how are you doing as the coach of your team?
This month, our cover story deals with the technician shortage. Yes, it’s a problem (that goes without saying). In search of solutions, we’ve gathered details on what shops across the country are doing to combat the lack of qualified prospective employees. You’ll notice our Waldo-inspired design, serving as a reminder that sometimes you have to look in non-traditional places to find the right people to build your team. (Huge thanks to our art director, the talented R.J. Pooch, for the extra effort put into hand illustrating much of the design in this issue, to Associate Editor Carley Hull for her hard work on the article and to Managing Editor Kristen Criswell for suggesting the design concept.)
A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune of touring both the Bridgestone passenger and OTR tire plants in South Carolina on the same day. Wow – what an amazing experience! While the facilities and overall operations were impressive, what impressed me most were the people on the line who were actually producing the tires.
Now these were not bedraggled factory workers – they were smiling, optimistic process professionals who seemed empowered to do their best work in whatever step of the process they managed. In conversation over dinner with Bridgestone leadership, they explained that their hiring process at each plant is designed make sure they’re hiring not just workers with the right skillset, but people with the right attitude and problem solving skills. They believe that doing so directly impacts the quality of the products as well as the culture of the entire organization.
Perhaps that explains why the Aiken, S.C., OTR facility was recently recognized for their commitment to safety. It takes a team effort.
As a successful tire dealer, every time you have an open position, you have an opportunity to grow the real assets of your business – your people. You also have an opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of those who work with you – and of those newbies you hire. After all, a great coach does more than call plays – they become a catalyst in creating the right team chemistry by blending together the right mix of talent, inspiring each individual to be their best. A strong business owner can do the same.