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 Carolyn Wiczynski, director of sales North American for MEYLE AG, a little better.
What was your first job in the industry?
I was an associate sales rep for Bosch Automotive Aftermarket. For the first five-and-a-half years, I called on repair shops and garages and small jobber stores in Orange County and Southern California. It was an entry-level position and that’s how I started – standing under cars and talking to techs.
What do you like best about your current position?
I like the international aspect of it. Most of the people I’m dealing with are in Germany, so I really learn about how business is done in Europe. I enjoy it – it’s sometimes frustrating – but I enjoy the problem-solving aspect of translating what their understanding of the U.S. market is and how they sell product here and how to work with customers in the U.S.
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, I did not. I knew I wanted to be in sales. I went to a job fair and there were a lot of different companies there. It was a really large job fair. Bosch was one of the companies there and I thought it was interesting because there’s a technological aspect to it. It’s not like selling Pepsi. Some of the biggest brands that you use in your household every day were at this job fair but I thought, after you sell so many M&Ms or Mars candy bars, how interesting can that be?
Bosch was technical. We had two Volkswagens growing up and my dad worked on his own car and so I knew the name. There are a lot of different products and you get to learn how things work and it’s much more interesting selling features and benefits of a technological product. Honestly, the technological aspect is what has kept me in this industry.
What do you do when not at work?
I am a member of a running and hiking club. I work out. I like to garden. The normal things…doing things with friends, little trips since I’m so close to the border, I can go wine tasting down in the wine region in Mexico, which is only two hours away. And, I take weekly horseback riding lessons every week with my niece.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Can I pick two? I would say curious and tenacious. When someone gives me information, I always then want to know what’s behind it, how did they get there, etc. I’m endlessly curious, even with parts, “Why is it here and not here?” “Why is it mounted this way and not that way?” I tend to have a lot of questions because I’m a very curious person. And then, tenacious. I’m not super aggressive, I just never give up.
What was your first car?
The first car I had was a used, red 1986 Nissan Sentra, with no power anything. I had no AC, I think I had an aftermarket tape deck, but it was pretty bare bones.
What are you currently reading?
I read the newspaper a lot, and there are two books I’m currently reading but now I’m doing more podcasts than reading. I have two favorite podcasts, “Marketplace” and “Trail Blazers.”
If you could time-travel, to where and what in era would you want to visit?
I would pick the Old West when California was becoming a state. I think it would be very interesting to see how the country was forming, how it was to live then, the energy of it, you were so connected with the land, you had to think for yourself and get things done for yourself and how independent people were.