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5 Minutes With Brian Boland


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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 “5 Minutes With,” we get to know Brian Boland, chief sales officer and partner at Garage Guard by Evarts Tremaine.

What was your first job in the industry?                

Well, this was my first job in the industry. I started when I was 26 back in 2004, and I’ve been here ever since. I was recruited to join and grow this program that I’m involved with, which I run now, when it was sort of in an infantile stage. There was a great opportunity to grow it. Also, there was a uniqueness with our trust with the insurance companies and our differentiation. I thought it was kind of a neat thing to get involved with, which is a little bit different than what you see out there in general agencies. To me, it was just more intriguing. The word insurance can kind of turn some people off and I understand it. I was coming from a sports marketing background prior to this, and it was a big change. But, then again, it was also pretty fun once I got into it, once I learned more of what it was all about.  

What do you like best about your current position?

I think the thing I like best about it is you meet so many different business owners, all across different levels. It’s never the same. It’s really interesting to see in each demographic how each business owner runs their business, how it’s run depending on the climate, depending on the situation where they’re at and, you know, just helping them out. We now become a trusted advisor. They’ll call me and ask for advice on stuff that doesn’t necessarily relate to insurance because I’ve established that credibility with them. We’ve become more of a partner versus just a means to a policy. We become someone they can trust and bounce ideas off of, and we truly work together toward their goals. That part I think is really neat because I feel like I’m adding a lot of value. Being a part of their success is worth it in the long run.

Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?

I think what keeps me going is the same thing that draws me to it. It’s always changing. It’s not static. There are always new ways to learn and grow. The industry is evolving, and those relationships keep going. I’ve had some customers now for as long as I’ve been in the industry — 17 years. It’s always nice to say “you’ve been with me” for that long, or they hand it off to their son or someone else and perpetuate their business and you’re still a part of that. There’s always something around the corner. That is keeping me intrigued and hopeful.

What do you do when not at work? 

Well, No. 1, I’ve got two kids, a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old. So that keeps me extremely busy. My 10-year-old is really involved with sports and ice hockey. I help coach his ice hockey team and that takes up quite a bit of time. That’s a long season. It goes on and on. It never ends. Other than that, my wife and I like to play tennis. Sometimes, I try to play golf, but that’s not one of my strengths.

What one word best sums up your personality?

That is an interesting question. Using just one word is challenging, but I picked “intuitive” because I feel like I’m good at really being able to understand people and understand what they want, kind of the feel of the room. I feel like that is a strength of mine. I have this kind of uncanny way of knowing if something’s wrong. I can kind of feel it without actually asking that person. It’s one of those things that sometimes is really strong and gets to me. It can be a curse because you can take on other people’s energy so much so that it can affect you. But, I feel like that’s probably one characteristic why I think I’ve been successful at my job. I understand what people need without really having to dig deep. 

What was your first car?

My first car was a green Jeep Wrangler. It was a used car. I bought it off a kid who was graduating from college. I had saved some money and my dad helped me out a little bit. It was the best car by far. I had it until the end of college. I just remember the feeling of when you get that first car being just incredible, especially when you work toward it. It was amazing.

What are you currently reading? 

I just finished a book I’m really into. I’ve always been obsessed with Navy Seals and very crazy things that people have gone through and kind of a growth mindset. So, the last one I read is called “

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,” by Brent Gleeson. It was really fascinating about what he went through in his training, his challenges in life and how people can get through it by shifting their mindset. I always seem to be intrigued by how these guys do it and their mental toughness. 

Favorite quote, mantra or motto?

This actually kind of goes with that book I was reading, but I love it being that I’m in sales. It is: Get comfortable being uncomfortable. I think it’s something that everybody can apply because the more you get comfortable being uncomfortable, the more you’ll take risks that apply to growth. And, the more you will get yourself out of your comfort zone and enjoy life, hopefully not having as many regrets when it’s all said and done.

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    • By Counterman
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      That didn’t slow him down when it came to carving out an incredibly successful career in automotive. Now with roughly 35 years under his belt, Norko says he still lives by the guidance he was given by the mentors he had while just starting out.
      “Fortunately, I had an angel in Southfield, Michigan, who was keeping his eye out for me,” said Norko. “His name was Don Thorpe, God rest his soul. He was the national sales manager for the sales division that called on NAPA and every time I would come back to Southfield, he would always look me up and we’d have lunch or have dinner. He wanted me in the sales group. He got his wish and I went into to NAPA sales for Federal-Mogul. I spent some time there and then I went into heavy-duty sales, and then into distribution. Then, they brought me back to be in finance. So, the first eight years, I really got a good dose of being a management trainee in different functional areas from sales to distribution and finance.”
      Norko credits another important mentor in his career for helping him learn the key to being a successful sales professional.
      “Another strong mentor was 
      link hidden, please login to view, God rest his soul as well,” said Norko. “Bob was the national sales manager of heavy-duty sales at Federal-Mogul and really taught [me] the foundation that I still use with my group. The first thing he said to me when I took the job up in Minnesota in heavy-duty sales was, ‘You know, Brian, I really don’t care about writing big orders here. The next three or four months, what I care about is you get to know your customers and establishing a very good relationship with your customers. When I come back up in four months, I’m going to talk to some people and see if they know you,’ and he did.” The experience Norko gained while working in a variety of roles in the Federal-Mogul management trainee program made him a firm believer in the value not only of relationships, but in having a wide variety of skills as an aftermarket executive. When speaking to students about potential career paths in the aftermarket, this is something Norko is passionate about.
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      In this episode, Bill and Brian also dive into:
      8:29 Mentors; 10:45 Identify the need and provide the solution; 12:10 The value of brands and quality products;  12:15 The value of strong brands in making life easier in sales; 14:35 The technician shortage; 20:30 AMN Drivetime’s NEW “Lightning Round” “AMN Drivetime” is sponsored by Litens.
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      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
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    • A-premium Auto Parts:5% OFF with Code GM5.
    • By Counterman
      When Brian Norko, senior vice president – commercial business operations, NGK Spark Plugs (U.S.A.) Inc., interviewed for the management trainee program at Federal-Mogul, he says he “didn’t know anything about manufacturing and … wasn’t a car enthusiast.”
      That didn’t slow him down when it came to carving out an incredibly successful career in automotive. Now with roughly 35 years under his belt, Norko says he still lives by the guidance he was given by the mentors he had while just starting out.
      “Fortunately, I had an angel in Southfield, Michigan, who was keeping his eye out for me,” said Norko. “His name was Don Thorpe, God rest his soul. He was the national sales manager for the sales division that called on NAPA and every time I would come back to Southfield, he would always look me up and we’d have lunch or have dinner. He wanted me in the sales group. He got his wish and I went into to NAPA sales for Federal-Mogul. I spent some time there and then I went into heavy-duty sales, and then into distribution. Then, they brought me back to be in finance. So, the first eight years, I really got a good dose of being a management trainee in different functional areas from sales to distribution and finance.”
      Norko credits another important mentor in his career for helping him learn the key to being a successful sales professional.
      “Another strong mentor was 
      link hidden, please login to view, God rest his soul as well,” said Norko. “Bob was the national sales manager of heavy-duty sales at Federal-Mogul and really taught [me] the foundation that I still use with my group. The first thing he said to me when I took the job up in Minnesota in heavy-duty sales was, ‘You know, Brian, I really don’t care about writing big orders here. The next three or four months, what I care about is you get to know your customers and establishing a very good relationship with your customers. When I come back up in four months, I’m going to talk to some people and see if they know you,’ and he did.” The experience Norko gained while working in a variety of roles in the Federal-Mogul management trainee program made him a firm believer in the value not only of relationships, but in having a wide variety of skills as an aftermarket executive. When speaking to students about potential career paths in the aftermarket, this is something Norko is passionate about.
      “When I speak to classes or I speak to students, the one thing they ask me is how can they find that type of job, and why is it important? And what I always come back to as I deal with this today at NGK is an organization can’t have all specialists. They can, but it may make the process of strategy or problem-solving a little bit more cumbersome or time-consuming than having maybe 30-40% of your population that has spent time in sales, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, finance, etc. By having that background, those people are able to help others understand who the customer is and, and maybe some of the problems or challenges they have with the organization. 
      “I mentioned Bob Show earlier. Bob always said there’s really two functions of a company from his viewpoint. His two focuses of a company were to get a customer – which if you work for a company like NGK or a company that has a lot of strong brands and high market share, that’s pretty easy to do because people want your product. Sometimes the more difficult thing to do is to keep a customer,” Norko says. “When you’re trying to keep a customer and you have people working in your team who are just not sales people, but also come from the distribution side, the manufacturing side, the finance side, they’re able to bring solutions to help you keep that customer. So, I think it’s really important to have some generalists within your team and not all specialists. That’s a message I share here at NGK all the time as I try to get people to move around within the organization just to become stronger. And really it makes the career more interesting. I’ve loved my career for the last 30-plus years. I wouldn’t change it for anything with the experience that I had and and the people that I’ve met.”
      In this episode, Bill and Brian also dive into:
      8:29 Mentors; 10:45 Identify the need and provide the solution; 12:10 The value of brands and quality products;  12:15 The value of strong brands in making life easier in sales; 14:35 The technician shortage; 20:30 AMN Drivetime’s NEW “Lightning Round” “AMN Drivetime” is sponsored by Litens.
      link hidden, please login to view link hidden, please login to view The post
      link hidden, please login to view appeared first on link hidden, please login to view.
      link hidden, please login to view

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