This job certainly has its perks.
The travel alone, while often exhausting, is also exhilarating, exciting and more times than not, exceptional. Just this year, I've covered industry events in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Banff, Canada. In years past, I've visited China, Germany and Hungary, all in the name of the job.
Still, the travel ranks third to two other perks. No. 2 is meeting tire dealers, wholesalers and manufacturing executives. Some of the most accomplished businessmen call the tire industry their profession, and I'm honored to meet each of them.
So what's the best part of the job? Well, it happens once a year, and I can remember each of them specifically: It's the call to an unsuspecting tire dealer, telling them they have been selected as recipient of the Tire Business Tire Dealer Humanitarian Medal.
They all have a similar reaction: Who me? Humanitarian winner? You've got to be kidding me.
One winner said something other than "kidding," he was caught so off guard.
This year's process was particularly arduous. We had a record number of nominees, and the independent panel of judges needed more time than usual to peruse the material, both submitted and uncovered while doing their due diligence.
This year, I made the call while I was on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario — my happy place. Actually, I was pacing around the parking lot of the North Bay (Ontario) Museum — the weather made fishing impossible that day — determined to reach this year's recipient, Kim McMahon, president of McMahon's Best-One Tire & Auto Care of Fort Wayne, Ind.
It took several calls and several paces around the parking lot before we finally connected.
"You're kidding me, right?" she asked.
The excitement and enthusiasm in her voice was as brisk as the Ontario wind.
"I really don't know what to say," she said, saying everything that needed to be said in the moment. "Thank you. Thank you."
As you will see or probably already know, we devote a huge chunk of this issue to tell the story of the humanitarian winner. We reveal the winner specifically in this issue, the second that we distribute at the SEMA Show, since Kim received the medal at the Tire Industry Association's Honors Banquet, held Oct. 31 at Bally's in Las Vegas.
Our senior reporter, Kathy McCarron, did a masterful job of telling Kim's compelling story. I encourage you to read each and every story.
In learning about Kim, the first female to be honored with the medal outright, one number stood out above all others: 37.
That's the number of non-profit organizations that she and McMahon's Best-One support. The dealership donated more than $100,000 this past year alone to those organizations that support, among others, pets, vets and children.
There's a common thread that binds the 29 Humanitarian winners together. Their unabashed philanthropy, of course, tops this list. And every one is or was a successful tire dealer who invests back into his or her business and community.
The one trait that stands out for Kim is the buy-in she and her partners receive from the 160-plus McMahon's Best-One employees. In some ways, it's as if they personally are investing resources into these causes — and in a majority of cases, they actually are, be it donating goods, money or time to the charities the dealership supports.
It really is no wonder that McMahon's Best-One was named one of the Best Places to Work in 2020, a survey conducted independently and sponsored by Tire Business. To Kim, the employees are as important as the charitable causes she supports.
She told us that while happy the dealership continues to grow, she realizes she won't know all about the individual employees, as she had previously. Now that's quite a culture.
McMahon — both the person and the dealership — demonstrates the passion to make the Fort Wayne community better, stronger and more inclusive.
Well done, Kim.
Just 10 more months before I get to make the next call.