Business Development Manager | Nexen Tire
Greg Karson is one of those industry innovators everyone wants on their team. He doesn’t pass the buck when faced with a challenge. Instead, at Nexen Tire, he’s known as the go-to guy who studies the problem and develops solutions to improve the lives of tire dealers.
Karson got his start in the tire industry at Kumho Tire in 2011 when he was fresh out of college. There, he was heavily involved in helping the company develop its first tire app from the ground up. He was soon picked up by Linglong Tire, where he worked behind the scenes to develop marketing materials related to the company’s contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016—a high-profile year that ended with the team winning the NBA Finals. This caught the attention of Nexen Tire, which hired Karson as the company’s business development manager in 2017 to run all aspects of the company’s Next Level associate dealer program.
Karson says he’s spent a lot of time working to upgrade the program and streamline its online functionality. He has improvements in the works that he hopes to have pushed out to dealers by the end of the year.
Any tire dealer involved in a dealer program who’s asked themselves, “How many tires did I purchase this quarter?,” “What is my payout?” or even, “What’s my password?” should appreciate Karson’s ability to produce solutions that simplify life as a dealer. If he encounters any issue more than once, he says, he focuses and dedicates his time to quickly solve it.
“I like to stop and say, Ok, how can we stop the redundancy and put in a procedure to make the problem go away, hopefully for good?” he says. “So, on the Next Level website, we made it very automated and easy for dealers to relieve those kinds of headaches. I don’t want to give too much of what we’re working on away, but we’re building a system where we’re streamlining communication with retailers where [if they have questions] they can have those questions answered almost instantaneously rather than sending an email or creating a support ticket.”
Karson isn’t just focused on solutions for tire dealers right now, though. He says it’s important to consider the business lessons the tire industry has learned from the recent coronavirus pandemic and continue to apply them going forward.
“This whole pandemic kind of kickstarted my theory of what tire manufacturers and retailers in the industry need to look at, and that is that consumers are going to want less face-to-face,” he says. “I know that there are some services out there that will come to you and change your tires at your home in your driveway, or a grocery store parking lot. I see that trend picking up here in the next few years, where people are going to want that service to come to them. I can see the consumer and the tire industry shifting toward that mobile installation of tires.”
Karson adds that despite the damage caused to the tire industry by the pandemic, the industry’s resiliency seems to stem, in large part, from the comradery for which independent tire dealers are known.
“I love that when I talk with people I’ve worked with in the past, there’s never a line in the sand that says you’re on the opposite side of the fence. Everyone is willing to share ideas on how we’re evolving,” he says. “We can be competitive but still be friends and share ideas without being too hard on one another.”
Fun Fact: Karson says while he takes his work very seriously, behind the scenes he’s known for cracking jokes. “I can be pretty serious at times, but I will find myself making jokes just to lighten the mood or situation,” he says.
Charles Goodyear revolutionized the rubber industry when he discovered the vulcanization of rubber, protected by his U.S. Patent 3633. The filing of this patent can be seen as a starting point for the modern tire industry. It is in recognition of his fierce determination and accomplishment that our Club 3633 takes its name. The Tire Review Club 3633 celebrates and recognizes the next generation of innovators — those who continue to shape and advance our industry. We welcome the 2020 Class of Club 3633 members and applaud their accomplishments with our sincere congratulations.
Check out the rest of the June digital edition of Tire Review here.