Tom Gegax is not your typical tire dealer. That becomes evident in the first few pages of his new book, Winning in the Game of Life. (Harmony Books, New York. ISBN: 0-609-60392-2.) Mr. Gegax, 53, is co-founder and head coach (CEO) of Team Tires Plus Ltd., one of the nation's largest tire retailers. Based in Burnsville, Minn., the company operates 85 stores and 59 franchises in eight Midwestern states and projects sales of $162 million in 1999.
Subtitled Self-Coaching Secrets for Success, the 300-plus-page book outlines the comprehensive strategies Mr. Gegax embraces in his personal life as well as for his successful dealership, which he started in 1974 with ``just $15,000 and a bank loan.''
The journey takes the reader through seven take-action steps, six behaviors to make the journey easier, 10 lessons for lifetime living and numerous tips for physical, intellectual, psychological and spiritual wellness.
Don't look to Mr. Gegax's book for advice on how to market light truck tires, which media he deems best for advertising, or how to collect overdue bills. You'll find none of that here.
But he does offer opinions on such wide-ranging subjects as religion, nutrition, psychology, meditation, human behavior, love, divorce, parenting, decision-making and preservation of the Earth's resources.
How many tire dealers have their own spiritual, behavioral and self-care mentors? Mr. Gegax does. ``Just like my career mentor meetings, time with personal advisors offers live examples to model as I travel down my mission's path,'' he writes.
Most tire dealers may not be familiar with a corporate culture that includes shiatsu massage, meditation and nutrition classes. But the innovative Mr. Gegax embraces all of these at his dealership—and more.
Life was much more traditional for the Indiana native until 1989, when he was hit with ``a three-ring wake-up call.'' He was diagnosed with cancer, his 25-year marriage ended and his struggling business was on the threshold of bankruptcy.
The near-disastrous year led him to the concept of ``self-coaching'' and the first steps on his way to recovery and impressive successes.
It was then that Mr. Gegax began to study every aspect of his life—from what he ate, to how he spent his time, to his need for spiritual wellness through a Higher Power.
In this deeply personal account, he elaborates on the traits he feels are needed for winning the ``game of life.'' He uses the acronym COPPSS to detail caring, optimism, passion, persistence, systems-discipline and spirit-filled.
Little is traditional about Mr. Gegax and Team Tires Plus, where managers are called coaches, customers are guests and employees are teammates who team together rather than work together.
The writer's presentation on nutrition may send a reader to his kitchen shelves and refrigerator to scrutinize labels. At least he'll make you very uncomfortable the next time you order a double cheeseburger.
In the final pages, Mr. Gegax offers practical advice on workaholics, career choices, communication, mentoring and money management. (See accompanying excerpts.)
Not to be overlooked in the book is the author's extensive list of resources, which offers dozens of additional book titles covering the subjects he has covered in Winning.
It's the kind of book in which you'll want to underline passages to share with co-workers or family members. There is much to savor.
The Gegax lifestyle might not be practical for everyone, but there is no denying his self-coaching concepts work for him.
Dean English is a freelance writer based in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.