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 “Five Minutes With,” we get to know Brian Wheeler, vice president of business development and marketing for Cloyes, a little better.
What was your first job in the industry?
My father was a mechanic, so I grew up in a repair shop. Then, he ran service centers forGeneral Motors for a number of years. So, my very first job in automotive was actually working as a lot porter moving new and usedcars all around the lots and getting them to the sales guys to get sold. But my first career job in the aftermarket was doing North American marketing for Dayco.
What do you like best about your current position?
My favorite thing – and I’ve said this quite a bit throughout my career – is getting out and meeting the folks who actually manufacture our parts and get our parts to the customer. Obviously, without those folks, our business doesn’t matter. I can do all the PR and marketing we want, but if we don’t have a high-quality manufactured part and someone to manufacture that and get it on a truck to get to our customer, none of the marketing matters. That’s my absolute favorite part of the job – spending time with the folks who actually get things done.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
No, it was never on my radar. Neither was moving to Detroit, Michigan, where I live now. I went to school be a journalist. I started my career in television news, did radio, and did b2b publishing for a number of years. I always wanted to be a sports journalist, but I had an opportunity to join Dayco and make this jump over to PR, communications and marketing. It sounded very intriguing to me to get to be that storyteller for a brand, as opposed to being the one asking the questions. Now, I think I have a decent grasp of what journalists are looking for and I can help try to get those stories to them.
What keeps me here now, No. 1 is living in Detroit and being in the automotive industry. For me it’s just exciting. It’s a fun business to be in. For as large as it is, it’s also very small and we all know each other and see each other at the same events. It’s like a big family.
What do you do when not at work?
I love spending my time with my wife. We just got married in July. We travel quite a bit together when we are not both traveling for work. We spend a lot of time up north in Michigan, in the Traverse City area, and spend a lot of time on our mountain bikes as well.
Outside of that, at this time of year, on Saturdays I’m glued to my TV watching the Oklahoma football team. I’m from Oklahoma and still have season tickets to the games.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Not to be cheesy but, motivated. I try to come to work every day with a good attitude, motivated to do best for our customers and try to do best for our team. It’s kind of the same thing I do in my personal life. I’m always running 100 miles per hour, I feel like, which is both good and bad at times but I’m just motivated to get things done.
What was your first car?
This [story] is funny and not funny at the same time.
My first car was a little Chevrolet S10 pickup truck. I’ve always been a truck guy. I drive an F150 now. When my dad was working at the dealership, my parents got me this Chevy S10 and my mom wrecked it before I even got it. The entire front end got taken off. There’s still a debate in the family about whose fault it was – hers or the other driver’s.
They got it fixed up and I eventually got the vehicle but being a 16-year-old kid and having your mom wreck your car before you even get it was kind of funny.
This isn’t really a quote to be honest. It’s just something my dad always told me when I was young and it has stuck with me: “If you are going to spend your time doing something, do it right.”