Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In this instalment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Brian Huck, CEO of The Eastwood Company, which recently made its first acquisition under private equity ownership.
What was your first job in the industry?
I had been in direct marketing and e-commerce for years prior to Eastwood, but my first job in the automotive aftermarket was at Eastwood. I came in as director of marketing and was tasked with transitioning the company from a catalog-driven to an e-commerce-driven business. We were able to make that transition pretty successfully, and haven’t looked back since.
What do you like best about your current position?
The people, the product and the passion I get to work with on a daily basis. We are blessed to have a smart and talented team of folks at Eastwood and I love working with them to solve issues and grow our business. After people, I’d say I like sneaking into R&D and talking to our product guys about the new stuff we are cooking up, and brainstorming new ideas or new ways to connect our products to our customers. What drew me to Eastwood most, and is still true today, is the opportunity to work in a company and an industry full of so much passion about the projects and vehicles we all get to be around.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and
what keeps you here?
I did not initially pursue a career in the aftermarket, and honestly didn’t know what opportunities existed. What keeps me here? Passion and inspiration. I am constantly fired up and inspired by the awesome stuff our customers create with our products. I love playing a small role in fueling their passion, and impacting their lives as they make their projects and dreams a reality.
What do you do when not at work?
Run, bike, coach soccer, anything outside. My kids play a ton of sports and being their biggest cheerleader is a job of its own, and one I love.
What one word best sums up your personality?
The word I think about almost every day is passionate. I think it would probably be the same regardless of where I was, but, for some of the reasons we’ve already talked about, I’m passionate about the opportunity that we have to be a part of our customers’ projects and passionate about the products we get to create to make that happen. I’m equally passionate about the impact that I, and the business, can have on all of our employees and all the lives that we touch in that way.
Do you have a hidden talent?
There is basically nothing too spicy for me. Any time I get a chance to challenge someone to a hot sauce or a jalapeño contest, I’m up for it.
What are you currently reading?
“Killers of the Flower Moon,” by David Grann. Set in the 1920s in Oklahoma, it led to the beginnings of what we know of as the FBI today. Also, “Working Backwards,” by Bill Carr, Colin Bryar and Robert Petkoff, a look at Amazon’s culture and process for achieving success.
If you could time-travel, to where and what era would you want to visit?
The 1930s and 1940s. I know that sounds crazy since it was the Depression Era. But I watched “The Waltons” as a kid and I always loved the Model A pickup they drove around in and had to pile everyone into the back of. I’d love a 1929 Model AA pickup. I also think that spending time in that era would provide great contrast and perspective for the challenges we face today.
Man, there are so many, but I think this describes me pretty well: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”