ARE YOU THE LEADER YOU SHOULD BE?

“At the end of the day, I want to be the LEADER that I would work for.”

Dave Bloom

Owner, Pine Aire Truck Service, Bay Shore NY

Partner, Dream Car Restorations, Hicksville NY

 

Dave Bloom

Look up the term Leadership. Words like Authority, Command, Control and Power come up. If business owners think of Leadership skills in those terms, chances are they will fail. Both for themselves and their team.

But look up the term Help and you’ll see Benefit, Lift, Advice and Guidance. That set of words are much more on the mark.

In fact, you might even see a photo of business owner Dave Bloom as the dictionary definition of Leadership. But it wasn’t always like that for Dave. He’s been in the industry 35 years+ and had many ups and downs before developing his Leadership skills which have led to the success he is today. But you wouldn’t have predicted Dave’s success if you based it on the first shop he owned which was, in Dave’s words, “A disaster!” Dave’s evolution as a leader is an instructive lesson to other business owners. You’ll learn more about Dave so read on!

To be a strong leader, you need to have the confidence to guide both your business and crew to be better than you in many cases. After all, you want that new tech to be a better one then you were ten years ago. You need them to be up on the latest technology and be open to learn more. You need them to be faster and more productive than you ever were on your best day.

Bottom line: a good leader grows in their own capability and confidence, but they also encourage their employees to grow and become everything they want to become.

It takes time to recognize the importance of growing as a leader. How do you do it? What does it entail and how do you get started? It may help to think about where you started, where you are now and where you want to go with the goal of being a strong, respected leader.


THEN

Think about yourself back in school. Did you have a bravado that possibly covered up insecurities? If you did, you sure didn’t want to let on that you weren’t as confident as you were showing.  Being confident in what you know – and being comfortable with what you don’t know (and want to learn) – is something that comes from…ahem…age.

“As a kid… I was never the ‘leader’, I was always a kid that wanted to be liked and included,” says Dave Bloom.

 “I was actually pretty quiet and shy as a young person. I had a good sense of humor and a gentle personality that made it easy for me to fit in. I have 2 brothers and a sister; we are a tight family who ate dinner together every evening. Dinner included lively conversations and almost always back and forth humor amongst us! Thinking back, it was where I developed my sense of humor and also my comic timing as you had to be quick and spontaneous at the dinner table or else you would be shut out.

 When I opened Pine Aire, I was only 25 years old. As an owner I still put a lot of intention on wanting to be liked along with also wanting to be very significant in the success of the company.

 I did then, and still believe today, in leading by example and I discuss this with every employee on a consistent basis.

 As a young shop owner, I tried to do everything I could to show the people working with me that I was one of them and not the owner. This approach might work well for a manager, but as an owner it stunted the growth of our company. I felt the need to regularly prove that I was a top producer in the shop in addition to being the owner. Working on the trucks, training to work on the trucks, writing invoices, selling jobs, handling financial issues, hiring… I wasn’t running the business, the business was running me, and not paying me well!! I was overwhelmed.

 About 20 years in I made the decision to put more concentration on being a business owner and working on the business, taking a step away from the minute-to-minute activities. This is when I would say that I was starting to become a solid leader.” – Dave Bloom


NOW

Pine Aire Truck Service

Today, what kind of leader are you? Have you grown since opening your business? It’s important to evolve, both the business and you as a person. And that includes your leadership skills.

Your core skills as an owner should be established. Your confidence has grown since opening your shop. Also, your communication skills have grown and the ability to manage your direct reports in a confident manner. Plus, prioritizing issues on a daily, weekly and yearly basis…knowing what’s important and what needs your personal attention as opposed to a task that a team member should complete. Networking with fellow business owners should also now be part of your leadership toolbox.

It’s those leadership touch points that have progressed from years ago.

“Through the years I’ve come to realize that to be successful you need to separate the different tasks that are needed to properly run and grow a successful business. You cannot do everything yourself. This made me into a different type of leader. I realized that I needed to have the confidence that others can do many of the tasks that I was doing, maybe even better than the way I did them!

 I started looking at other business owners that I got to know and look up to. I started asking them questions. I started copying the way they led their teams and I also avoided doing things that I saw them do that I did not like – not just in the automotive industry, but in many different types of industries.

 I started asking myself the 2 questions that I hold today as my standard for what I want us to be:

If I were not the owner…

-Would I work for this company?

-Would I bring my truck here for maintenance and repairs?

 It’s so important to be honest with yourself. I regularly pull into the property and walk in as if I’ve never been here. I put myself in other people’s shoes.

 The reason that I went out on my own was because I broke my butt for someone who I ended up not trusting. If you want to build and keep a great team around you, they need to have the ultimate trust that you are sincere and care about them.

 I started doing a tremendous amount of business training. Many of the things that I learned which needed to be done were not comfortable for me. I always want to be liked, and still do, but sometimes the best decisions are not immediately popular.

 One of the most important things that I trained to do and still work at is to confront issues as they need to be dealt with and not shying away or hiding from them.

This is so hard but critical!” – Dave Bloom


FUTURE

Looking forward and planning for the future of your business is a leadership skill that the best business minds have developed over time. At the start of your business, you may have been focused on establishing your shop in the community. Debating when to take on new team members. And just figuring out how to pay the bills each week.

Right now, you’re focused on growth, training, marketing and maybe opening up another shop.

What needs to be done now is also plan and prepare for the future of not just your business but also you. How will you develop as a leader? What tools will you need? Really standing back and thinking about where you want to be as a leader is important. It’s not an easy undertaking but it is needed. This self-examination can he hard. It requires you being honest with yourself and not letting your ego get in the way.

Who’s the closest person to you? Spouse? Adult child? Who, if you really need it, is going to play straight with you? Because you may need a partner to help focus on the “future you.” Make it someone who’ll know if you’re BS’ing them. Because to become the leader you want to be, you need to first know who that person is who you want to become. It’s asking yourself, “What do I want to accomplish? To what end? Who do I want to be in 10, 20, 30 years? What will I have stood for?”

This 1967 homage to the famous Ko-Motion L88 Corvette was restored and upgraded at DREAM CAR RESTORATIONS. This was originally part of the famous Lost Corvettes barn find.

It is very important to know how others view you, everyone has an opinion of themselves, but others may see you differently – you need to be aware of this and adjust if necessary.

“At the end of the day I want to be the leader that I would work for. If I worked for me, or anyone else, I would want a clear definition of what is expected of me. I would want to see what my production is so that I could measure how well I was doing. I would want to work for a person that would challenge me and reward me when I went above and beyond.

 I want to continue working on my own emotional intelligence. I want to be a strong leader without being a dictator. The subject of leadership is so huge and is studied and written about by so many people from so many different angles.

 For my future I want to continue reading, training, educating myself. I have adopted a leadership philosophy that helps me through the difficult decisions that I have to make… I put myself second to my employees and my company and want the best for them. One of my biggest battles these days is with my EGO. It is so important as a leader to not put attention on yourself, and so darn difficult!

 I know the best thing for my employees and our company is to promote all the good things that our staff does, and not take too much credit for myself. It sounds so easy to do but it’s not! You educate yourself and then share everything you have with your team. You organize, hire, train and get everyone doing their jobs well.

 You acknowledge your team at shop meetings. You tell your staff how important they are to the company’s success. You tell your clients how amazing your staff is. You tell everyone that the success of your company is all due to your staff… Everyone believes how important the team is and it is all true, however you still have an ego and that ego wants attention!!

 A great leader needs to be selfless and the only way to accomplish that is to truly believe and tell yourself every day that it is not about YOU, it is about everything except you and when things are going well you get to ride along with the team.  This is one of the things I keep my attention on and will continue working on in the future!!” – Dave Bloom.


Pine Aire Management Team and Their Own Take on Leadership

Marlene Nunez

Marlene Nunez

Finance Manager/Office Manager/HR Director

How have your leadership skills grown since starting at Pine Aire Truck Service?

When I first started to work for Pine Aire, I was inexperienced. My world was very small and I needed a lot of learning and growth. But I was always eager to learn and be challenged and, with Dave as a role model, I can proudly say that I’ve become an asset to Pine Aire Truck Service. I have learned how to prioritize work with strategic and critical thinking and it has become my passion. So far, I have been able to conquer all of my responsibilities with pride as I continue to learn on a daily basis keeping an open mind to new ideas and ventures: from answering phone calls to entering invoices on QuickBooks. Today I have the ability to speak with customers on a more personal level, figure out solutions to any rising problems and have mainly gained the respect of all of my fellow co-workers, customers, vendors, accountant, brokers and mainly my boss.”

What have you learned from Dave about leadership…either directly from him or by example?

Dave has taught me that Leadership comes with many responsibilities. You have to be selfless but straight forward, humble and empathetic. You have to show appreciation, gratitude and acknowledge when someone does something positive.  Dave has taught me that when we all work together in unity, it makes us stronger with the ability to overcome obstacles and achieve higher goals. Dave has taught me to write things down, to work from the top of the stack downwards. He has also taught me that it’s okay to take a few minutes to BREATHE, as at times we tend to forget.”

What do you like about being a leader within the Pine Aire team?

I personally feel that as a whole we are all amazing leaders. Unity is what makes us stronger. Being able to control our own area freely and the ability to make our own decisions based on the success of everyone is what makes me love being a leader at Pine Aire. COMMUNICATION IS KEY!”

 

Jason Perera

Jason Perera

Shop Manager/Lead Technician/Training Coordinator

How have your leadership skills grown since starting at Pine Aire Truck Service?

“My Leadership skills have 100% grown a huge amount since starting at Pine Aire. Dave has sent us for training at DRIVE in California and has also personally helped me grow into the leader I am today. Now I have the confidence in myself to make the right decisions to be productive.”

What have you learned from Dave about leadership…either directly from him or by example?

“I’ve learned to lead by example and to genuinely care about your coworkers. Pine Aire is like a big family and that’s because of the way Dave cares about us all.”

What do you like about being a leader within the Pine Aire team?

“I love watching the new tech’s grow with the company. We have guys that had very little skills and now after getting training at Pine Aire they can rebuild engines.”

 

John Sganga

John Sganga

General Manager

How have your leadership skills grown since starting at Pine Aire Truck Service?

“My leadership skills have grown in many ways since starting at Pine Aire. One of the skills that stands out the most is growing the ability to delegate duties to others. Believe it or not, for some it is a more difficult task to delegate certain responsibilities to others, as opposed to doing them yourself. This is a very important trait to being a productive leader. Delegating certain daily tasks gives you (as the leader), the ability to concentrate on the things that can and will help the company and employees progress!”

What have you learned from Dave about leadership…either directly from him or by example?

“One of the absolute most important things that I have learned from Mr. Dave Bloom about being a leader is how to handle mental and emotional stresses. When you are in a position of leadership you are also in the position of owning not only the good things, but also responsible for handling all of the more difficult and stressful situations. Dave and I have spent a countless amount of time discussing and learning the importance of ‘Not taking it home with you.’ This is such an important area that most of the time just gets categorized as (normal) and most people just hold in their stresses. It is very important for a good ‘quality of life’ to learn how to handle stressful times and find that balance between work and personal life.”

What do you like about being a leader within the Pine Aire team?

“There are so many things that I like and appreciate about being a part of the Pine Aire team. (Notice how I didn’t say leader). We at Pine Aire all have rolls and all are very important. I love the fact that all of us from the top level to the most recent hire are like one big family. We have our ups and we have our downs, just like any other family. But when it comes down to it, even when there are disagreements or different points of view, we ALWAYS stay together on the same path, side by side to accomplish OUR goals.

 As for what I like about being a leader – I for sure enjoy teaching and directing by example. I enjoy having the experience to help others learn from mistakes that I personally have made and overcame in the past.”


 

EPILOGUE

 

Pine Aire Truck Service team

So, how did Dave Bloom end up with his leadership philosophy that has propelled his two businesses to a combined $4MM plus in annual revenue?

Until you came to your now successful outlook on Leadership, what did you try that didn’t work? And what did you learn from that?

“Yelling, Screaming, Breaking Things, Throwing Things… I would ask for something and when it did not happen, I would lose my temper and deal with it in an aggressive manner. For example: I would walk through the shop and see a blob of grease on the floor after someone pulled a truck out. I would ask people to wipe up the grease if it went on the floor. Then I would walk out another time and see grease on the floor and lose my mind, yell…

 A major impact on the way that I handled things was that I was so overwhelmed, my business wasn’t organized so I had to be involved in everything going on, it didn’t take much for me to lose my cool!

 I may have thought that demonstrating my anger would make people do what I wanted them to do. I threw (and broke) phones, smashed the shop radio and got in people’s faces… it didn’t work and I usually ended up apologizing for my actions!”

 Thinking back, would you work for yourself during that time?

“I probably would. Although I would come apart at times, I was still a very caring employer. I think that if I worked for me, I would have asked to take over some of the responsibilities. I believe a lot of my problems and frustration at that time was caused by not surrounding myself with the right people. A major part of being a good leader is having the right people on your team.”

Did you have an ‘aha’ moment when you knew that things needed to change…a specific incident or moment.

“Not really. It was a progression over a long period of time. I am always trying to make myself better and through reading and conversations with other business owners and, later, a DRIVE consultant, I realized that I could get things done in a much calmer, more productive manner.

 I would say that if there was a change that I could put my finger on it would be when we started having weekly meetings.

 When you have a weekly meeting, you can discuss what you want to accomplish with the team before it gets to the ‘flash point’. You can get agreement and then you can remind people about the agreement… every week if necessary until you accomplish what you’re after.

 You make ‘crap sandwiches.’ People are more agreeable when you also speak about the good things that are going on, not just the crap. So, surround the crap with happy thoughts…

 Example at meeting:

‘Last week we had great production, and everyone worked well together. One thing I would like to keep in mind is that there are times that people leave blobs of grease on the floor. This makes us look unprofessional and could be dangerous…. Let’s work together, keep production up and maintain a professional image, does everyone agree?

Let’s have a great week, you are all greatly appreciated for your efforts.’

 Then next week I may discuss it again – good or bad until we get it right. Consistency is a huge part of being a good leader!

When you don’t have weekly meetings, you usually let many things build up and then at your breaking point you call a meeting with 10 things that are driving you crazy.

-Clean the grease.

-Get in on time.

-Make sure you check this.

-Why are we using so many gloves.

-Can someone dump the friggin’ overflowing garbage cans without being asked!?

-Write the mileage on the work orders.

-Yack Yack Yack like Charlie Brown’s teacher, wha wha wha wha…

  It confuses people and makes them think that you are a lunatic and that you don’t appreciate all the other efforts made by your team!

 If you yell all the time people think that you fly off the handle over every little thing and they don’t take you seriously… ‘Here he goes again!’

 I read about leadership and experiment. I read about ‘Emotional Intelligence’, I read about successful leaders and their strategies. I attend workshops and speak regularly to other owners and managers.

In addition to the weekly meetings, I have more individual conversations. I also empower my managers and delegate many of the responsibilities to them. Then I work with them to properly train and help them to get the people under them to follow their lead, calmly. If someone needs direction, I do not confront them in front of others, I, or my managers, take them aside and speak with them and get agreement.

When I started this company, I was 25, I just turned 60 and with age comes wisdom… if you seek and use it!”

 

Dave Bloom of Pine Aire Truck Service and Dream Car Restorations is a top industry leader with over 35 years in the business. He has a passion for leadership and loves networking with, and supporting, fellow shop owners and industry executives.

Carolyn Gray of DRIVE has an extensive background in marketing, media strategy and branding, including Vice President of Digital at Fox Broadcasting and Co-President of Filmaka Studios. She brings that wealth of knowledge to Monrovia, California based DRIVE.

 

# # #

ShopOwner Magazine link

ShopOwner digital Magazine link

FleetEquipment Magazine link

FleetEquipment Unscripted interview link

FleetEquipment Newsletter link

Watch Dave Bloom on DRIVE FACEBOOK LIVE here

BodyShopBusiness Magazine link

BodyShopBusiness Magazine newsletter link

BodyShopBusiness Magazine newsletter link

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