AKRON (Aug. 13, 2013) — In the typical introductory conversation in a social setting, the question always arises: "What is your job?"
When I tell people I'm a journalist, I usually see a gleam in the eye of piqued interest. Then comes the inevitable follow-up question, "Oh! Who do you write for?"
"I write for Tire Business newspaper."
Cue eyes-glazed-over look.
I'm sure I would have retained interest if I had responded with "New York Times" or "CNN." Yet I try valiantly to regain some interest by clarifying that "it's a business trade publication and I write more about small businesses than just about tires. It's very interesting."
By then, though, it's falling on deaf ears with a polite nod of acknowledgement.
But really, writing for Tire Business is interesting. (I'm sure it beats writing for the ceramic tile trade magazine I interviewed with before landing this job!)
Granted, I never thought I'd be writing about the tire business for so many years. I originally worked full-time for Tire Business for several years, took a multi-year leave to take care of my kids and parents while doing some freelance writing for TB, and then I came back on staff about seven years ago.
I guess I stuck around because I enjoyed the staff and I enjoyed interacting with the various people I have interviewed in the industry, both in the U.S. and Canada. Beyond just getting an education on the construction of a tire and how it complements the performance of a vehicle, I have been fascinated learning how small business owners manage and promote their companies, how they improve customer service, and how they adapt to the ever-changing trends in the industry and the economy.
When you get right down to it, tire dealers are like any other retail business owners who top business magazines and newspapers report on: They have an array of products and services, they have a management philosophy, and they face the common challenges of retaining customers, handling government regulations, adapting to new technology and equipment, contending with larger competitors and dealing with employee issues.
During my many years with TB, I have covered stories of how individual tire dealers have carved out a market niche for themselves, added new types of services, retained employees with incentives, endured the Great Recession and changing industry trends, and even survived natural disasters.
Most of the time tire dealers are very open to talking about their business strategies and sharing their success stories with the rest of the industry. Even when I was a newbie to the tire industry, I was impressed at how friendly and helpful those in the industry are, offering explanations when I was clueless on how a retread was made or what the many industry terms meant.
And to those in the general public who say that writing about tires is dull work, I respond that my job has taken me to conferences and businesses all over the U.S. and parts of Canada to locales I may have never otherwise visited on my own. I have also participated in numerous tire company ride-and-drive events where I got to test-drive tires on exotic vehicles, including my personal favorite, a Lamborghini. (My husband is so jealous!)
So, yes, "writing for Tire Business" is interesting.
Don't tell anyone, but Tire Business Reporter Kathy McCarron still has designs on that Lambo.