What was your first job in the industry?
I started in the aftermarket more than 20 years ago when I joined the Firestone team working in a service and retail role. Starting my career in the aftermarket taught me one important success factor, which is it requires the ability to work with many different types of customers and team members. I cannot overstate how incredibly important it is to build confidence with your customers. Why? People truly do remember positive experiences. While that is relevant to any industry, it is specifically important to the auto parts aftermarket. If a team member treats a customer well and provides quality service, they will feel positive about the experience and return the next time they need service. It all boils down to taking care of people. In my time at Firestone, and my 17 years with Advance Auto Parts and Carquest, I’ve never lost sight of serving the customer.
What do you like best about your current position?
It is an exciting time to be leading our 1,260 Carquest Independent locations as president of Carquest North America. The true strength of the Carquest Independent Program is our store partners in their commitment to building long-term relationships and supporting local communities. These past few months I’ve been focused on getting out in the field and really understanding what our store partners not only need, but truly want to help grow their businesses. That feedback helps me chart the path for the Carquest Independent team, and pushes all of us at Carquest to serve our store partners to the absolute best of our ability.
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 have been incredibly passionate about cars since I was young. I was constantly working on and around vehicles with my dad, godfather and uncles. In fact, some of my earliest memories were spending Friday and Saturday nights at the local raceway just down the road from my aunt and uncle’s house. I also spent quite a bit of time at a family friend’s body shop working on hot rods, as well as my own car back home in Virginia. This passion drove me to take a part-time role in the service industry, which in turn led me to work at a parts store, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What do you do when not at work?
I spend the majority of my time with my family; my wife Heather and our daughter Rylee both love to travel. I still love to detail my own vehicles and always enjoy attending car shows and race events with my family as well. I also try to stay active by playing golf, along with spending time at the lake during the summer with family and friends.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Passionate. I love what I do, I truly enjoy life and I absolutely thrive on seeing others succeed. To say that I enjoy people is an understatement!
What was your first car?
My first car was a 1988 Mazda 626 with a stick shift for speed. I wanted a Mustang, but my dad said it was too fast for my first car.
Do you have a nickname?
Technically ‘Junior’ is a nickname; my full name is Herman Word, Jr.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
My favorite quote comes from Muhammad Ali – “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” In terms of a motto, I am a salesman through and through. My motto is “sell on!”
Know someone who would make a great candidate for our “Five Minutes With” feature? Email AMN Editor Amy Antenora.