- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

Military-to-Civilian Transition Success Story: A Career for the Long Haul
by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Michelin North America tires

at work.

Whether you are talking tires or guidebooks, it’s a company that gets you where you want to go in style. It’s also an American institution whose self-professed mission is to contribute to the progress of mobility. Perhaps it can even contribute to your own career mobility by becoming your next employer.

It is Michelin North America and they seek employees for the long-term.

“When we hire someone, we have the expectation that this person will be with us for a long time. It’s possible to have a long-term career lasting 20-30 years with Michelin,” said Stephen Hoeft, continuous improvement manager for marketing and sales for the Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-based Michelin North America.

The Michelin Group itself is an international company dedicated to mobility, through the disciplines of science, research, manufacturing, marketing and sales. Michelin tire makes tires for many different markets and includes everything from research and development to manufacturing to marketing and sales. The company employs 121,000 people in dozens of facilities worldwide.

For over a century, Michelin has stood behind its core value of respect as it applies to people, customers, shareholders, the environment and the facts. Its key vision is to enrich the quality of life in the communities where [we] live and work.

The S.C. location, where Hoeft works, is Michelin North America’s (MNA) headquarters. MNA is responsible for roughly one-third of the Group’s total tire sales, employs more than 22,000 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 17 locations.

One of the positions that Michelin North America seeks to hire is that of sales territory manager. Because of the inherent leadership abilities regularly found in veterans, the military-experienced talent pool is an area of job seekers that they regularly target. Michelin turned to Bradley-Morris, Inc. (BMI), the leading military-focused recruiting firm, to help secure those candidates.

“To date we have placed 16 BMI candidates with the company,” said Stacy Muntz, Michelin’s BMI account representative explaining that ten work in sales and six others in industrial engineering positions.

“BMI has done a fantastic job in conducting the initial screening of candidates for us,” said Hoeft elaborating a bit more on those requirements. “By the time we get to the full day conferences, we are left with 10-15 candidates who are already interested in us and in going to the next level of the process,” said Hoeft.

“To fill our territory sales manager positions, we look, first and foremost, for individuals having leadership abilities. Sales can be taught; leadership cannot,” said Hoeft. “We also look for candidates having excellent communication skills, an open mind and prior military experience,” said Hoeft.

“[Military veterans] have invaluable leadership experience. They can effectively communicate and work with our dealers and end-users on a professional level,” said Hoeft.

“We hire all levels of people into sales territory manager positions and offer a competitive salary as well as a standard benefits package to include 401(k), medical, dental and vision plans,” said Hoeft.

“Company vehicles are also provided along with bonus opportunities,” said Hoeft.

Once hired by Michelin into a territory sales manager position, the employee is placed in a ten week training program, based in Greenville, S.C., where both classroom and field work is experienced.

“Our training program structure is first class. It’s like going back to college complete with tests,” said Hoeft.

“The training program is very intense and employees are paid during this time. You become fully immersed into the Michelin product line and you won’t be expected to go out on your own, or solo, until you are completely knowledgeable about our products,” said Hoeft.

“When candidates enter the program, they don’t know where their own sales territory will be at that point. It’s only after training is well underway and we have a better idea of the employee’s strengths do we match those individuals with the available opportunities,” said Hoeft adding that territory assignments are usually given out at the half-way point in training.

After the initial orientation training program, training itself continues via mentorship, follow-up formal and informal opportunities.

Career progression within sales, marketing or training is a definite possibility with Michelin.

“There is no typical career path. Each tire line opens up different potential opportunities. Given the size of our company, there are a number of possibilities within the business units,” said Hoeft.

A newly hired territory sales manger may progress in a couple of ways.
He or she might move into a senior level fleet account manager role where key account regional and end-user trucking fleets are supported. From there, a regional manager position may be a possibility.

Another potential route from territory sales manager might be into the training department and other human resources-related positions.

Hoeft’s own career progression began with two years as a territory sales manager, four years as a regional account manager, and three years as a recruiting manager before landing his current position.

“We want employees who seek a career with Michelin, not just one type of job,” said Hoeft.

“When that sales manager is out there, he or she is representing a whole line of people in the company who may not be present in that moment, but they are being represented nonetheless. It’s extremely important for us to get someone who can handle that professional responsibility with ease,” said Hoeft.

Words of wisdom for you

Two BMI placements with Michelin who have indeed handled that responsibility with ease and success are Heather Leigh and Josh Jarvis.

“Working for Michelin has been such a gratifying experience thus far,” said Leigh who is the territory manager for the state of Montana.

“I am able to incorporate the skills that I learned in the Navy and I am constantly being challenged and trained in new areas,” said Leigh. “This company is very distinguished and reputable. They have treated me well and I couldn’t be more impressed or happier to be employed with [Michelin].”

Jarvis, who is also a territory manager but in New Mexico, agrees.

“I enjoy the constant opportunities I have been given to grow and improve my ability to become successful in my position. Some of these opportunities include attending a sales training course, on the job training with engineers, and joint calls with other Michelin field representatives,” said Jarvis who was also the 2008 Rookie Sales Manager of the Year.

These two former service members offer their wisdom for those who are in the process of or thinking about crossing over to employment the civilian side.

“Think about all of your hard work, long hours and demanding tasks that were given to you during your time [in the military] and reflect. Then, keep doing the same thing and you should be fine. Seek out your goals and have fun doing it,” said Jarvis.

“About six months before my end of service date, I started researching job opportunities and companies that could help me land a great position. I perfected my resume and made sure that I had all my bases covered prior to getting out of the military,” said Leigh.

“It’s important to have a strong plan. Make sure you research every option,” added Leigh.

Janet Farley is the author of “The Military-to-Civilian Career Transition Guide and she writes the JobTalk column for the Stars and Stripes newspaper.  She can be reached at for comments and/or column suggestions.


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