Regional Manager | Black’s Tire Service
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.
As a blood relative of the Benton family, Jonathan Ransom grew up around tires. He remembers cleaning up Black’s Tire stores as a 12-year-old and learning to change tires as a teen with Jeremy Benton, the youngest son of owners Ricky and Diane Benton.
When the time came to decide between college and the family business, Jonathan took a step away to pursue a degree in biology. Yet the advice he received from Rick Benton, Ricky’s oldest son, remained in the back of his head: “The tire industry is what you make of it. This could be a job, or it could be a career.” After finishing college, it was clear: He’d build his career in the tire industry.
“I guess when you get tires in your blood, you can’t get away from it,” he says.
Crediting Ricky and Diane for “giving me every opportunity to succeed,” Jonathan met with the couple and mapped out his future with Black’s Tire. Then, he got to work — hopping around to the company’s Wilmington stores slugging tires, changing oil and pitching in “anywhere I could help to make the store profitable.” Gradually, he made his way to the commercial side, learning about the retread business and running a roadside service truck.
Then, another opportunity struck when Black’s Tire acquired Briggs and Sons, located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 2007.
“I’ll never forget it. I was sitting in the truck with Mr. Ricky and Ryan, [Ricky Benton’s middle son] who was kind of my mentor at the time, and Ricky asked me about moving to Fayetteville,” Jonathan recalls. “Ricky went out to get gas, and Ryan said, ‘Jonathan, you don’t have to move to Fayetteville. You know, we’ve got some good things coming [if you want to stay here].’ He wasn’t talking me out of it, he was just giving me options. But as soon as Mr. Ricky came back in the truck, I said, ‘I can move.’”
Almost the next day, Jonathan packed his bags and moved with Jeremy Benton to Fayetteville. They set up beds on the floor above the store and worked downstairs during the day. At the store, Jonathan became the assistant manager under Danny Boahn, who he credits with teaching him the commercial side of the business.
A year after Black’s Tire took over that location, the team there quadrupled the store’s sales from the previous year, making it the most profitable store in the Black’s Tire family at the time. Soon, Jonathan was promoted to store manager, and Danny became a sales manager on the commercial and retread side of the business. But, for Jonathan, that store holds greater meaning than even money can buy.
“There was a young lady there who was working the counter. She was going to school full time and working at a legal office, and when we first acquired the store, Ricky [Benton] came up to me and said, ‘That girl reminds me a lot of my wife. I think you should ask her out. There’s something about her.’ So, I asked her out — you know she’s been there and I’m this new face with this new company — and she said, ‘No. Not a chance.’”
That girl, Laura, was Danny’s niece. Now, she’s Mrs. Ransom and the couple have two children together.
“When I think about work, I think about family. That’s what I like about where I work. It’s a family-owned business, and I know they’re my family, but I also met my family there,” Jonathan says. “When I think about my family, I depend on them and I know they depend on me. I look at our business model the same way. We don’t say employees. We’re all members of a team.”
At work, Jonathan looks to instill those Benton family values of teamwork and service into all that he does.
“Ricky always told me, it’s all about service, service, service. We all sell tires, but if you can service them, that’s where you can build a relationship with the customer and earn their trust.”
About a year-and-a-half ago, Jonathan was promoted to regional manager at Black’s Tire and now has 15 stores in North and South Carolina under his belt. Many of those stores focus on the commercial side of the business, playing into his knowledge and skills. When Jonathan looks at upcoming trends and challenges for the industry, though, a few issues come to the forefront: tariffs and the need for technicians.
“On the commercial side, the tariffs [on tires imported from China] are going to be a huge transition. There’s a positive because I believe our retread sales will go up, but the negative is higher prices on imported tires… That means we have to make sure that we charge correctly on other stuff like service work and not cut ourselves short since the tire markup is going to be lower. We always want to be thinking of other avenues to generate more revenue.”
Jonathan is also an advocate for schools focusing more on trade professions at a young age to give students more opportunities for future success. “Our focus has to shift so that we have people to do the job moving forward,” he says.
For those looking to make a living in the tire industry, Jonathan passes along the same advice Rick Benton, the oldest of the Benton brothers, gave to him: “The tire industry is what you make of it.
“You can go 100% and be successful in it — I was more of that person who wanted to jump in all the way,” he says. “But in this industry, you’re going to get out what you put in.”
Jonathan also attributes his success in the industry to God and his family.
“I have to give it all to God, he’s the reason I’ve had these opportunities,” Jonathan says. “And to Ricky and Diane and the whole Benton family. Words can’t express how grateful I am to have them in my life.”
Fun Fact: Jonathan, a self-proclaimed “sports fanatic,” loves spending time practicing baseball with his 7-year-old son. “When I leave work, we’re at the baseball field until I take a shower and go to work the next day,” he says.
Other inductees of the 2019 Class of Club 3633 include Chris Albertz (Tire Discounters); Jessica Egerton (Cooper Tires); Ryan Lopes (Alliance Tire Americas); and Sean Conley (American Tire Distributors).
Check out the rest of the July digital edition of Tire Review here.