A CEO Who Walks His Talk
any other typical American company, Tom Gegax, the founder and majority
stockholder of Tires Plus, would be known as the chief executive officer.
Instead, Gegax refers to himself as the "head coach" of the
Midwest tire wholesaler that operates 130 stores in nine states and
totals over $150 million in annual sales. The head coach and his teammates,
the title given to all Tires Plus employees, go to work at the company's
headquarters in Burnsville, Minn., where the company promotes the wellness
of its employees by offering classes in nutritional cooking and smoking
cessation, along with an exercise room, places for meditation, and shiatsu
It wasn't always
this way for Gegax, whose business is now the sixth largest independent
tire store in the nation. He and his company are a long way, economically
and spiritually, from its modest beginnings in 1976 in three Minnesota
"In 1989, I
had a three-ring wake-up call: divorce, a cancerous lump, and big financial
problems for the company. It took that to make me ask, 'What's going
on? I'm not leading others very well, and my relationships, while they
appear good, evidently are not.' " In response Gegax embarked on his own spiritual
and psychological journey to arrive at some new truths.
"I came to
believe that there's something I'm here to do, that I have a mission
on the planet. The most important thing in my life is achieving that
mission, my assignment from the universe. If I'm able to be a beneficial
presence in the world in the ways I believe I'm assigned, then everybody
It's this personal
philosophy that has guided Gegax through the rapid growth of Tires Plus.
"To have that mission be in alignment with your work mission makes
it really fun. It's a good thing, obviously, when you don't have to
wear one mask at home and another mask at work. The more congruent you
can be, the less duality there is between workplace and home, the healthier
that is for everybody."
leaders need to do their own work. In other words, are they being real?
Are they bringing that realness to both their personal and business
lives? Secondly, are they creating an environment where others can do
that? Or are they just saying they are, but the words are empty.
"I think most
of the practices companies can implement to enhance the health of their
employees--whether it's intellectual, physical, or psychological health--create
an environment that's good for the health of the spirit. We're not talking
about bringing religion into the workplace, by the way. That's a very
important differentiation. We're talking about letting spirituality
come forth, in an environment where people can be loving and caring,
and have their spirit soar."
A CEO Walks His Talk
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Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.
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