Fulfilling its Veteran Hiring Pledge
John Peer is the Vice President of Goodyear retail, a unit of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which is based in Akron, Ohio. He is dedicated to the operation of more than 600 company-owned tire and automotive service locations in the United States. His responsibilities include sales growth, unit growth, profitability, and people development.
Peer started working for the company more than 40 years ago, and has held his present position for five years. “I started in 1971 as a retail trainee at Goodyear’s Canton, Ohio, store,” he said. “Since then, I’ve had increasing responsibility for retail and consumer sales and marketing in major markets from Akron to Cincinnati, Dallas, Minneapolis, Detroit, and ultimately nationwide.”
As part of his current job, Peer oversees the organization’s network of neighborhood Goodyear Auto Service Centers and Just Tires stores. “We sell Goodyear, Dunlop, and Kelly tires as well as offer complete automotive service such as wheel alignment, brake work, air conditioning, oil changes, preventive maintenance, and more,” he said. “We have more than 5,500 associates in 40 states who service millions of cars and customers each year.”
Looking back on his years with the company, Peer said, “I’ve been lucky to celebrate a number of successful moments in my career I would consider to be milestones. Leading the Goodyear Retail organization – the part of the company where I started my career – is certainly one of them.”
Goodyear has a long history in retail. “Our first retail store opened its doors in Columbus, Ohio, in 1924,” said Peer. Goodyear Retail offers a great deal of opportunity.
“We have management positions at each of our store locations, with increasing levels of scope and responsibility,” said Peer. “Each location has a store manager, and many also have a service manager who focuses on the service-department operations. There are also sales positions focused on interacting with customers during tire and automotive services sales. Our service department opportunities range from an entry-level general service technician up to a Master ASE-Certified Automotive Technician.” ASE certification is based on tests conducted by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and relevant work experience.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company delivers tires and related products and services to customers and consumers around the world. It employs about 69,000 people, and manufactures its products in 50 facilities in 22 countries. In addition, it operates Innovation Centers in Akron and in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg. And Goodyear operates three of its famous airships – better known as the Goodyear Blimps – in North America. The airships are based in Akron; Carson, California; and Pompano Beach, Florida.
Peer said that Goodyear is committed to hiring veterans. “Goodyear is proud to be a military-friendly employer,” he said. “In the past year, our Goodyear Retail organization alone has hired approximately 555 veterans. In 2012, the company overall committed to hiring 1,000 veterans over three years – and met that goal in just two years. The company has pledged to expand this military hiring initiative to hire another 1,000 veterans in the next year.”
Veterans come ready to work and to lead, according to Peer. “In my experience, veterans make good associates because they are often highly detail- and process-driven as well as discipline-oriented, punctual, and reliable,” he said. “They also possess leadership skills, which are important for growth.”
Peer also believes that Goodyear Retail is a great place for veterans to land after leaving the military. “Our Goodyear Retail organization is committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience in every store, every day,” he said. “When we have associates who share in that commitment and have a strong work ethic, they make it a priority to focus on the customer-service process and make every effort to be punctual and reliable. For associates like this, there are many opportunities for advancement in our organization. We have also found a positive correlation between veteran hires and increased retention rates. In addition to the technical skills needed for specific jobs at our Goodyear Retail stores, the top skills and traits we value in our associates – and find in our veteran hires – are the ability to build talent and teams, problem-solve, effectively communicate, make courageous decisions, and deliver results.”
Goodyear has a long history of supporting the military. “Goodyear has remained committed to supporting our veterans as they make their transition from serving our country to civilian life,” said Peer. “Our history with the United States military dates back to World War I, when the company produced truck tires, and even airships, for the war effort. Today, as the largest producer of military tires in the United States, Goodyear still plays an important part in keeping our armed forces rolling.”
The company supports members of the U.S. armed forces and their families through its annual Goodyear Gives Back campaign. Since its inception in 2010, Goodyear Gives Back has generated more than $800,000 in donations for the Support Our Troops non-profit organization. Goodyear also has a Military Veteran Association that it leverages for recruiting advice and to assist with onboarding new military hires.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | CEDRIC SAVAGE
Cedric Savage has served in the Army Reserve for seven years. As a staff sergeant, he holds a platoon sergeant duty position – managing a platoon of soldiers to accomplish tasks such as weapons maintenance/inspection, vehicle inspection, and equipment repair.
At Goodyear, he is store manager of the Goodyear Auto Service Center in West Allis, Wisconsin. There, he leads a team of associates in the pursuit of their goals – customer satisfaction, safety, sales, and profit. Savage is their coach, leader, and director.
Savage can relate to the challenges his store associates face because, not long ago, he was in their shoes. “In 2008, I started out in our Goodyear Retail Stores as an automotive technician and worked my way up from general service to alignment tech, then to service manager,” he said. “I then became an assistant store manager at a Goodyear Commercial Tire & Service Center before moving into my current role.”
Savage’s military experience led him to his career at Goodyear. “Being in maintenance in the Army is really what drew me to Goodyear,” he said. “I wanted to work somewhere I could apply my newfound knowledge of vehicles and how to properly repair them.”
He views his involvement in the Army Reserve as a great way to hone his skills. “In the Army, I have access to technical materials, and I get plenty of hands-on time with vehicles,” he said. “I can engross myself in the details of maintenance. It’s a great way to keep my skills up, and helps me get to an accurate solution faster when I am on the job at our Goodyear retail store.”
His military experience has also helped him manage his work and lead his team. “In the military, I deal with rapid changes in tasks, personnel, and behaviors several times in a day,” he said. “I have to be willing to change how I handle each situation. This experience helps me control my emotions at work and stay focused on the tasks presented to me throughout my day. It also helps me multitask as needed.”
Savage strongly recommends Goodyear to veterans and servicemembers who are looking for civilian employment. “Goodyear is very committed to hiring veterans,” he said. “They are very flexible with scheduling and recognize potential when they see it.” He said that it is important for veterans to find a career they like and not just a place to earn a paycheck. “The rewards of doing what you enjoy will only become greater over time,” he said.
As for landing a job at Goodyear, he encourages veterans to be genuine, and to make sure they mention how much they learned during their time in the military. “You need to be honest about the skills you have on your resume,” he said. “Also, in your resume, mention how the military has taught you the importance of being on time for work, performing your work as instructed – quickly and accurately – and how to adapt to change in a positive manner.”