By Crane & Hoist Canada
By Crane & Hoist Canada
Alan Eskow, sales and marketing vice-president at BKT Canada, lives just a few kilometres away from Niagara Falls, Ont. He shared his passion for tires, the importance of being a team leader and manager, his family and interests on an episode of Inspiring talks from the BKT Network.
BKT: Alan, tell us something about yourself.
I’m 58 and I have a large family with six children. And I’ve also got two beautiful grandchildren, an 18-month-old grandson and a 12-year-old granddaughter. When I finish work, I love tinkering in my workshop. I really like helping my wife in the projects she has for me which usually involve building, arranging, repairing. I also spend a lot of time on FaceTime with my grandchildren every day. And before the COVID-19 pandemic, we loved travelling as a family, from a local trip to flying out, but unfortunately at the moment none of this is possible.
How did you get into the world of tires and why are you so passionate about them?
My father had a chain of car parts store as well as repair shops, so I have always been in the midst of vehicles and tires.
What I like about the tire sector, and in particular the off-highway segment we work in, is that you’re never bored. Around 15 years ago, I went from the tire market for Passenger and Light Truck field to the Off-Highway market, and I discovered how fascinating it was.
The clients that use larger tires, whether we are talking of farmers or a construction company, are very different from any other customer. They work with you to try and sort out problems that might arise. They give us feedback, indications and ideas and, by doing so, they help us make our products even better.
Together with customers, we try to choose the perfect tire for every need and application. In this way, the product provides top performance and the customer does not have to face vehicle downtime, spares, etc. and can optimize their work.
What type of manager are you? Do you consider yourself visionary, democratic, change-oriented or something else?
I think that my managerial style is a combination of several characteristics. I’m visionary in that I am always looking for ways to continuously improve the performance of BKT, also and above all in the long term. They tell me I’m democratic and loyal to the members of my team, but above all, I’m a coach. I train my team every day so that they are stronger, more compact and united. We start from the development of and support for the individual up to teamwork.
You seem a very positive person, Alan, and this certainly influences the way you spend your time. Can you describe your typical working day for us? In general, how do you start your day? Do you have any morning rituals?
My day generally starts early, around 6 a.m. I start by taking the dogs out and feeding them. Then I have a cup of coffee or tea. The work starts with reading my email. From this point on the day passes with phone calls, video conferences, Zoom and Teams calls. Generally, I have an update with my team members and I contact them individually. This goes on for the whole day, with the occasional break. Sometimes work goes on until late in the evening because we handle customers from three different time zones.
Earlier you mentioned that you like travelling and I suppose that you travel a lot for work too. What countries have you been to and which did you like the best?
Yes, I travel a lot both for work and for pleasure. I’ve been to various countries in Europe, then Jamaica, Barbados, Saipan, Hong Kong, the USA, but the best trip was to Denmark.
My son was invited to a hockey tournament and on that occasion, I helped coach the team, this involved a group of around 30 young hockey players who all travelled together from Canada to Denmark. The players were hosted by the Danish players’ families and it was a magnificent and unique experience for both the players and the coaches.
You helped the coach, so does that mean you played hockey too in the past?
I played hockey in the minor leagues from the age of five to 19, then I moved on to what we call the Mens League and then the Oldtimers. I haven’t played for several years now.
Let’s go back to travel for a moment, I’m curious to find out if there is a country you haven’t been to yet that you’d like to visit.
There are several on the list. Ukraine, the United Kingdom and above all Scotland and then Ireland. In general, every new country excites me because it’s an adventure.
The fact that you’re a native English speaker is, I imagine, an advantage when you travel. Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t understand or make yourself understood, a situation of mutual confusion? Do you speak other languages?
In reality, I’ve never been in such a situation because in one way or another there is always some solution to be found for communication. Unfortunately, I don’t speak other languages even though I’d really like to.
What is the linguistic situation in Canada? We know that both French and English are spoken, so are they both taught in schools?
Yes, both languages are taught. When I went to school, I studied French until the age of 12, but it was a basic level and then, through lack of practice, it was difficult to keep it up and I lost it all pretty much immediately. I know that now, however, the school system is very different.
Let’s completely change the subject. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I’d really like to be able to fly. I’d go and see my grandchildren every day.
Your grandchildren are lucky to have a granddad like you. You’re positive and you help others, but is there something you’d change about yourself?
I’d like to be a lot more patient and I try every day to improve this aspect of my personality.
And now a customary question for Inspiring Talks: are you more for “traditional” TV or for Netflix, what do you like watching?
For sure Netflix and I’m a big fan of Top Gun. With my grandchildren, we often watch Disney movies.
Do you have a long-cherished dream?
I sure do! Winning the lottery so I can travel a lot.
And the final question: what is your greatest passion?
My family, all of them. I’d like them to always be well and happy.