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 today’s installment of “Five Minutes With, we get to know Kelleigh Ash, VP And General Manager, Rolling Big Power, a little better.
What was your first job in the industry?
I grew up working with my dad on anything with a motor. So it’s a passion for me. It was super cool to be able to get into it and do what I love. There is nothing better than that. I wanted to get into it and my dad actually said, “Do not get into the automotive space.” Of course, that was enough for me to want to do the exact opposite. My first job was at a dealership, wrenching and helping out the service advisers and I got into the aftermarket from there.
What do you like best about your current position?
My current position is amazing because again, I get to do what I love. I was able to work really closely with our new CEO at Pilot [parent company of RBP]. He brought me in two weeks after he started at Pilot. He was actually a customer of mine before that. He worked for AutoZone and Pep Boys for a number of years, so I had sold to him. When he crossed over to the manufacturing side, he called me and said “Hey, I want you to come join me.” I asked where he was going, and when he told me Pilot I said, “Oh heck no!” because they just didn’t have a good reputation in the aftermarket. He said that was what he was trying to change and went through all his plans with me of what he what he was trying to do, and long story short, two weeks later, I was working for him. Everything he said he wanted to do has come to fruition, or is in the process of, so it’s been really exciting to be able to do that. He lets me be me. I’m a different breed and I don’t really fit into a certain box if you will. I’ve become self-aware and he understands that, and lets me go and do my thing.
What keeps you here?
What keeps me here is really the customers – the builders and the enthusiasts in the industry. Their passion for what we do is the reason why I’m here. I call it truck or Jeep art. Being able to start with the clean slate of a new Jeep or truck and being able to see people’s imaginations and creativity come out in how they accessorize their vehicles is really why I’m here. The enthusiasts and the consumers spend hours of their personal time going to shows and shopping online and figuring out what parts they want and being able to fulfill that and then see the end-product is why I do what I do.
What do you do when not at work?
I typically hang out with my family – my husband and two dogs. I’m the crazy dog lady. Our dogs are sort of our children and they travel with us. We love doing anything outdoors, anything active. We have quads, snowmobiles, a couple vehicles, basically doing anything like that or traveling is what I do when I’m not working.
What one word best sums up your personality?
I would say passionate. I think basically in anything I do, I’m very passionate about it and I do it full-bore. I don’t really have a first or second gear; I go wide open throttle, all the time. I think that best describes my personality.
What was your first car?
My first car was an ’87 Honda Accord that was a horrible, horrible beige color. It had the flip-up headlights and one headlight didn’t work and the rear fender wells were so rusted out that the salt from the roads stayed in the back seat. And the driver’s side window didn’t work so going through drive-thrus I had to roll into the backseat. But, it worked and it started and drove and as a 16-year-old that’s all you need. That was also one of the first ones I worked on to fix so it was great for projects.
Who is on your dream dinner party guest list?
I would say Elon Musk. The way his mind works, or appears to work, is super fascinating to me. And he is just one of those people who is smart on a level that most people, including myself, don’t understand but it’s amazing to see. Granted, he’s a bit of a renegade or rogue – but being able to see how his mind works and just the fact that he’s created these ideas from literally nothing is interesting to me. Same with Steve Jobs. They created technology from nothing and ideas from nothing and I think that is pretty fascinating.
Know someone who would love to be featured in Five Minutes With? Email editor Amy Antenora at [email protected].