Bob Jones was a successful tire salesman with two decades of industry experience. Because he built a network of colleagues and mentors, and was open minded when someone tapped him on the shoulder. Also, he loves a challenge.
A lot of people think that pricing is the actual act of slapping a price on the tire.
There’s a lot more to it than that.
Any small action that you make, no matter how miniscule you think it is in pricing, has a big impact on the business. We price versus the market – not just against our costs. We have to really strategically position our products so we can be successful. It’s pretty detailed work, analysis-wise, because we’re looking at every single item we make and ensure it’s in the right position.
I really never considered working in pricing.
I’ve been in the tire and automotive industry for 20 years, the last eight years with Continental. I’d gone through all kinds of different sales and central function positions. I was in purchasing for about three years at one point in my career, but pricing was new to me here at Continental. It was really something I’d never considered, but a couple of people talked to me about it, explained it and I was really drawn to it.
I spent a lot of time in sales and won awards, but I never thought of myself as a salesperson.
I’ve always thought of myself as a problem-solver. Pricing was a good change for me. I’m involved every day with senior management and privy to conversations and decisions that really drive the business, so I knew it would be enough of a challenge to really draw me in and motivate me. I’m involved with Supply Chain, Product Planning, Sales , Marketing and Operations. There are very few aspects of our business that pricing doesn’t touch.
My switch to pricing never would’ve happened without the internal people network I created.
Developing an internal network is really key. Not people that just lay out a gravy train for you and tell you what you need; you need people to really consult with, to be a mentor. One of my mentors told me I have a great head for numbers and said pricing was something I should consider. He asked if I’d thought about it, and I told him of the 50 jobs I’m interested in, pricing would be 51. But it’s just because I didn’t know about it. So, I talked to a variety of people who’d either done this job years ago or who were in the job now and asked them all sorts of things beyond the job posting.
My only reluctance was I didn’t want to get into a job that wouldn’t be a challenge.
But what I didn’t realize was how much the business would evolve and how much we needed to think ahead with pricing. I made some changes to help enable this, and while it’s not finished yet it’s been very rewarding. We’ve done some things to make the department more efficient and actually grow it.
We’re in such a big growth mode with our tire business here in the U.S. – there’s a lot of opportunity in front of us.
It’s tremendous. Since 2011, we have grown our business every year and are now the largest Continental PLT Replacement market in the world! We want to exceed expectations and try to outgrow the market, but we want to do it in a healthy way – not a slash and burn mentality, as I like to call it. If you’re not motivated by that and just want the status quo, then I don’t know if Continental is the best place for you. But, if you are motivated by continuous challenges, then Continental is a good place for you. There are a lot of opportunities to continuously improve and reinvent your career, if you want to.