National Product Manager, Material Handling & Solid Tires | Alliance Tire Americas, Inc.
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 2019 Class of Club 3633 members and applaud their accomplishments with our sincere congratulations.
How does a mechanical engineer take on the role of national product manager of a niche tire product line, you may ask? It’s by way of a country in South Asia. Some may say it’s serendipity, or was it intentional?
After working in the quality assurance and process evaluation field, Ryan Lopes says he got his start in product management with a forklift manufacturer in India. Then, he brought his knowledge of the material handling business to Alliance Tire Group (ATG) when he joined the company in 2014. From there, he built Alliance’s material handling tire business and launched the company’s solid tire line.
Putting the notion of serendipity aside, Ryan very deliberately chose his career, says Barry Clifford, manager of brand marketing at Alliance Tire Americas — “one that would combine his education as a mechanical engineer with his MBA, and he combines those skills every day as a product manager.
“Ryan has led Alliance Tire Group into the material handling and solid [tire] market,” continues Barry. “He brings a passion for learning and great skill as an agent of change to his role, helping us create new internal processes to serve this market and blaze trails into new channels of distribution and marketing.”
Ryan’s product line is significantly different than the traditional Alliance lines – ag, construction and forestry sectors, but he says it’s very exciting. He explains: “I have been given the unique opportunity to follow a completely new business segment for ATG from the idea stage, through product line concept and development, and now to go-to-market. I spent four years working with the team in India as we established our product offering, and now I have the opportunity to work with the teams at ATA to structure and scale up our sales and marketing efforts in the Americas, and to optimize our channel to provide the most value for all our customers at every step.
“Within the company, entering the solids business has required a significant set of changes. Every aspect of manufacturing, compounding, pricing — everything down to how you load a container — is impacted by the fact that solids are built differently and are significantly heavier than pneumatics.”
With a desire to make a difference not only for his company, but also the tire industry, Ryan adds, “I feel I am contributing at an industry level by driving this change in marketing at Alliance — listening to what the dealer needs, driving business to the dealer for sales while making them the face of our market initiatives. The idea is to create a collaborative model where Alliance builds differentiated products, which are backed by superior service levels of the dealer channel to maximize performance in the field. This, we believe, will help create further opportunities for the dealers to grow their businesses.”
Ryan approaches his job with remarkable intelligence and contagious passion, continues Barry, keeping an eye on challenges facing the tire industry and strategizing how ATA can turn those challenges in opportunities.
The most significant trend of which is that the product life cycle that was once the norm — in which a product may remain on the market for decades —will become a lot shorter, very much like it has in most consumer product industries, Ryan notes. “New-product development will occur at a far greater pace as customers understand their own specific needs and challenges, and as manufacturers utilize technologies that allow us to hone our engineering, design and go-to-market approach more quickly and precisely.
“At Alliance Tire Group, we have always been known to be quick in our development efforts, I believe the above trend will move us to be very much more innovative and differentiated in our development efforts across product categories going forward,” he adds.
Along those lines, Ryan also believes in personal development, such that he reads as much as he can, not just about the industry, but a lot of material outside of his area of expertise. He says he is currently reading quite a bit about sales strategies and channel management, supply chain and new-growth portfolio.
In addition to watching the communications coming out of the tire industry organizations, Ryan says he tries to be involved in organizations that are important to the end users of his company’s tires so he can stay on top of the issues that are important to them: organizations like the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA).
“But, I think I learn the most when I am right where the action is, talking to the tire technicians or equipment operators or tire dealers,” explains Ryan. “It’s so important to get their insight and talk to their bosses, to really understand the root causes of their issues so we can differentiate ourselves and develop the next generation of solutions. (It helps that I really love to travel. I have been living in the U.S. for eight months and have already visited 28 states.)”
Fun Fact: “Most Americans are surprised to hear me talk about basketball, and they are intrigued by my knowledge of the players or when I get into details like transfer procedures. The NBA is very popular in India,” Ryan says. “I’ve been following basketball since Kobe Bryant joined the LA Lakers in 1996, and I’m still a Lakers fan even though I live in Celtics territory. I played basketball through college, and I still keep a ball in the house so I can shoot some hoops when I want to relax.”
Other inductees of the 2019 Class of Club 3633 include Chris Albertz (Tire Discounters); Jessica Egerton (Cooper Tires); Jonathan Ransom (Black’s Tire Service); and Sean Conley (American Tire Distributors).
Check out the rest of the July digital edition of Tire Review here.