Product ManagerBridgestone Americas
For some, running a marathon is a life-long goal. For Justin Hayes, 26.2 miles is just a start. A competitive distance runner, Hayes finished 12th in the Men’s Division of the U.S. 100-Mile National Championships in 2015.
“Probably 50% of my professional success I would directly relate to being a distance runner,” Hayes says, adding that running helps him de-stress and clear his mind to solve problems.
Hayes, who earned a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University, started working for Bridgestone at their tech center in Akron, Ohio, in 2006. After five years working in tire technology development, and after finishing his MBA, Hayes relocated to Bridgestone’s U.S. headquarters to work as product manager.
As product manager, Hayes “sets the future product strategy,” that Bridgestone will design and work toward bringing to the market. Hayes analyzes automotive trends and helps the company adjust its product portfolio to meet the needs of the market.
This August marks Hayes’ 10th year with Bridgestone, and he likes the challenge working in the tire industry presents.
Hayes enjoys figuring out how to educate customers about the engineering that goes into making the consumer goods that people “think (are) just round and black.” The pinnacle of what he does and the most fun experience for him is attending the product launch events, where the company unveils a new product to the world.
“We work with the product from inception, we follow it with the engineering team all the way through development and then when we get to the product launch. When we tell the world about it, when we talk to dealers about it… that’s the pinnacle of what we do and probably the most fun experience in this job,” he shares.
One of Hayes’ favorite sources of information is the independent tire dealer, and he welcomes feedback.
“We’re always listening to feedback from independent tire dealers, and honestly that’s one of the best sources of information to help steer future product portfolio,” Hayes says. “Independent dealers are the ones on the front lines every day, talking about our products, selling our products, hearing from the drivers what they like and don’t like about the product… We appreciate the feedback – it’s very helpful to how we do our jobs day in and day out.”
During his time with Bridgestone, Hayes has learned to define success by the customer having a great experience from the initial placement of the tire on their car throughout the life of the tire.
“When I hear about or read about someone that’s used our product and had a great experience and it’s a product that I’ve personally had an influence on – whether it’s from my engineering experience back in Akron or a product that I’ve influenced as a product manager – when those comments are positive, that’s really how I would define success,” he says.