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 installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Bryan Emrich, an experienced CEO who recently joined Engine Ice to lead the company through a full rebrand and relaunch.
What was your first job in the industry?
I actually grew up in what I would call a subcategory of the automotive aftermarket, on the powersports side. I grew up riding and racing for a motorcycle shop. When I was in college, that really got me hooked on this type of industry. When I came out of undergrad, I went into banking and then went back to business school. After business school, I went to work for a traditional consumer-products company, but I always had some interest in getting into the automotive aftermarket. My first true role within the automotive aftermarket was with Valvoline, as the director of marketing and director of motorsports.
What do you like best about your current position?
Well, I’ve found that what I’m very good at – from a business standpoint – is really identifying where you can grow, whether it’s from strengthening equity, to build the top-line expansion of a product offering, or identifying key customers that you can go deeper with. I think all of that, plus the fact that I grew up racing motocross and we’ve recently expanded in this segment. It’s just a space I have a really warm spot in my heart for. I’m excited about my career and such a great role, even six months in.
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 think the automotive aftermarket, being a motorcycle guy and a car guy, was always intriguing to me. My father and I both grew up again racing, so we were always working on everything we owned, including vehicles. I think the passion that comes within that area is something that’s a bit contagious. I wouldn’t say that I had the goal to work in the automotive market, but it’s certainly something that I think my path has sort of naturally continued to come back to, which makes me very happy.
What do you do when not at work?
I’m a huge outdoor guy. I love to hunt. Getting outdoors is huge for me. My kids are now older. I’ve got my youngest sailing off to college next year. So, you know, you work hard and play hard. To me playing hard is getting out to the mountains, getting outdoors and just being absorbed by it. I think it’s probably the most healthy thing to do as a businessperson, because you can’t be creative and you can’t think straight if you’re just cluttered all the time.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Maybe infectious is good word. Meaning, I get excited about stuff and I have a knack for getting other people excited about it.
What kind of car do you drive?
I think the car I drive sort of sums up a little bit of my personality. I drive a supercharged Toyota Tundra. It’s kind of all-purpose, just like me a little bit. It can carry a big load. It can go fast. It can be a lot of fun. It could be very utilitarian. All at the same time.
Who is on your dream dinner-party guest list?
What if I’ve already had it and I just dream of having it again? One of the things I’m most proud of in my career, after I left Old World, I worked for John Force, the drag racer. So, I’ve had multiple dinners with him. Unfortunately, he races for Peak, and I run a different cooling company, so I don’t get to work with him anymore, but we still stay connected. I think just having dinner with John again, because every time you sit down [with him], there’s a myriad of new stories. Being able to sit down with a living legend, in any sport, is just so meaningful to me because you hear all the little details about the struggles, how they got there … You also learn how he manages being a leader and an icon and having to support a huge organization. So, you know, I’ll take you to as many of those dinners as I can get.
What are you currently reading?
There’s a new book I just got that I’m fascinated by, but I haven’t started reading it yet. It’s called “Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War” by Ray Lambert. He just passed away a couple weeks ago. I believe he was a medic in WWII. He and his brother both landed on the same beach on D-Day. I just have such a respect for the men in the military, understanding all that they went through. So, I’m really excited to start this one.