BRENT HESJE, CEO of Fountain Tire and the incoming chair of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada is a hard man to pin down.
Regularly touring the country and travelling internationally about 30% of any given month, Jobber Nation was able to catch him between conferences, on his way to Singapore for the YPO Edge Global Leadership Conference. YPO is an organization with activities based on Better Leaders through Education and Idea Exchange.
To understand Hesje though, it’s helpful to recognize that he has been dedicated to the industry, not only in his business, but also for all business, though his involvement with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Hesje was chair of the largest fundraising campaign in the institution’s history, with a goal of $100 million to fund significant campus additions. NAIT was a hair’s breadth from reaching the goal as of this writing and Hesje was praised for his efforts. He ended his three term as chair of the NAIT board in 2017.
Raised in Saskatchewan, he earned his Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1985. He joined Fountain Tire in 1992 and became part of the ownership group in 1994. He calls Edmonton home, where he lives with his wife and two children.
What do you believe to be the biggest near-term challenge for the aftermarket?
Expanding the mindset that these dynamic times are full of opportunities for the aftermarket.
An abundance of financial and intellectual capital from technology has turned its head to our industry and that means exciting times ahead. Youth are comfortable and energized by technology so this is a great time to get future generations pumped (remember I’m a tire dealer) about the automotive aftermarket!
What is the role of the AIA as you see it?
To be the voice of the Canadian Automotive Aftermarket. We must work hard to be on the top of the list of all levels of government and all of our AIA members for those moments and those major projects that require relevant perspective and reliable information.
What does your experience in the tire segment help you bring?
I think my experience in partnerships will help. Building networks and collaborating is more important today than ever before.
My entire 25 years in the aftermarket has been with Fountain Tire where we have a network of local owners and one global minority owner, Goodyear Canada. We could not have grown our network to 159 stores and hundreds of wholesale customers without a strong collaborative approach.
There is lots of aftermarket business out there, especially when you consider all the underperformed vehicle maintenance.
Working together should help us get more vehicles properly maintained leading to safer Canadian roads. AIA Canada has a wonderful reputation and is in a strong financial position to make a difference!
What can jobbers do to tackle the challenges?
The AIA Canada Disruptors Study talked about the potential for disintermediation, essentially pressure through the midstream of the supply chain as a result of technology. This may very likely continue to impact wholesalers and jobbers.
There will be so many opportunities to respond to this pressure. For example a strategy could be to become more diverse by augmenting parts wholesaling with service elements. In such a scenario wholesalers could supply services such as tool training, software and programming services along with other specialist skills to Automotive Service Providers (ASPs).
Wholesalers have a history of adapting by building and maintaining strong relationships to keep ASPs in relevant parts and therefore the concept of adding a service component fits.
GETTING TO KNOW BRENT HESJE
My first car was a:
A 1972 Pontiac Ventura hatchback. 350 2-barrel. Metallic Green with a black racing stripe!
My dream car is:
An autonomous SUV with leather sectional and a large as possible TV screen. Especially useful during our 750km drive to our cottage at Prince Albert National Park!
My favourite part of the job is:
Expanding into a new Canadian market with our unique ownership model
(50% Store Leader and 50% Fountain Tire Ltd.).
When I have a tough problem I’m trying to work through I:
Check in with my business partners, our board and a business forum that I am involved in via YPO (a global network of business leaders).
Aside from spending time with family, when I am not working what I like to do best is:
Play a Stanley Thompson designed golf course in Canada.