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TireHub, a distribution company based in Atlanta, is transforming the wholesale tire distribution industry in the United States via world class logistics and superior customer experiences.
"When our CEO, Peter Gibbons, asked me to join as CIO, he said that we would have to do three things to be successful,” reflects CIO Ashok Vantipalli. “One, create a culture of saying yes to making it easy for customers to do business with us; two, focus on growing business for our dealers and retailers; and three, provide technology that makes everything seamless.
We continue to do all three, and I'm especially gratified that my team played such an important role in enabling TireHub’s growth."
As Atlanta becomes more of a destination for innovative logistic service companies, it is not surprising that a company like TireHub elected to set up shop here. And it would be difficult to find another company providing last mile delivery so successfully while growing dramatically at the same time.
Just over three years old, TireHub is a national tire distributor that provides U.S. tire dealers and automotive retailers a comprehensive range of passenger and light truck tires from two of the world’s leading tire companies, Bridgestone and Goodyear. TireHub offers easy online ordering, a knowledgeable and customer-focused sales force, and breadth and depth of premium products. With 1,350 employees (known as Hubbers), TireHub serves local customers up to three times per day across a nationwide footprint of 71 logistics centers.
Technology is a major differentiator for us,” says Ashok,“and it's been exciting to build something so vital and new from scratch. Our customers rely on just in time inventory and expect same day delivery, a requirement far more stringent than Amazon Prime.”
He adds, "We want to disrupt the industryand that was just the sort of challenge that I was looking for."
Ashok Vantipalli was born just outside of Hyderbad, India, and moved to New Delhi as a child. When he was 18 years old, the family moved to New York when his father was asked to lead U.S. Operations for anIndian public sector company - Bharath Electronics Limited. "The move to the U.S. was a big inflection point for me," he says. “I was working several jobswhile handling a full course load in college.Working while in college is not a norm in India, but it taught me a lot of life lessons andithelped me fully embrace the American dream.”
After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Ashok continued his education and earned a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
His first technology job after college at Merck & Co taught him his first professional lesson– to be a stickler for quality when it comes to technology solutions. His role in the R&D and clinical trials department involved providing airtightdata and results to the Federal Drug Administration for drug approvals and had no room for errors.
In 1998, Ashok joined KPMG, working directly with several Fortune 100 clients and helping them deploy eCommercesolutions. "I’ll always remember one particular client situation -Isupported bringing a large online bookseller back online by helping resolve an outage that lasted for 72 hours. The CTO was extremely happy with my initiative and leadership during the outage. The client awardedKPMG the project to re-platform itseCommerce site.This was my first significant step into leadership and made me appreciate that in every issue or challenge, there is always an opportunity. Youneed to trust your instinct and skills.”
And you need humility to be a leader, something that he learned while working for McKinsey from 2003 to 2007. "During my first 360 evaluation, my then manager -SattyBhens -brought to my attention that I said 'I' a lotmore than 'we.' This feedback was a great wakeup call and formed the foundation of who I am as a leader today.”
In 2007, still in New York City, Ashok went to the premier turnaround firm in the U.S., Alvarez &Marsal (A&M),and helped start their IT M&A practice for private equity clients. "While our typical week was 70 to 80 hours, I was fortunate tolead complex technology acquisitions and carve-outs," he says. "Servingon the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and turnaround to an asset management firm was my biggest assignment.”
Ashok moved to Atlanta, GA, in 2012, as a result of an A&M interim role at the American Cancer Society (ACS). That year, he assumed an interim leadership role at ACS and eventually decided to take a full-time role as he saw great opportunity to grow revenue via innovative technologies. "I saw immediately that technology could further the mission of the American Cancer Society and increase its donor base,”he says. His team was responsible for deploying an innovative mobile fundraising platform that helped create a new revenue stream for the Society.
In 2016, Ashok was recruited by Sage Software. The British multinational is the third largest provider of ERP software in the world and also the largest single supplier of software to small businesses in the world."I was the Global Head of Application Delivery and found a great diversity of cultures and mindsets at the company," he says. "My team was spread across 10 different regionsacross the globe and our main mandate was moving our software to a subscription model and unified systems across the company," he says.
Ashok then moved to TireHub in 2018. "We were starting from scratch, and everything had to be kept secret, initially," he says. "On Day 1, we started the companywith an online ordering portal, TireHub Now and an ERP system. As I took over the role, I quickly realized that there was so much more that we could do. Fortunately, our CEO had a vision for both the company and our people. It was fantastic to be part of a company in which technology played a major role in its success."
In late 2018, four monthsafter stand up they rolled out a new digital product -TireHub Pass, which allows all customers to connect with TireHub at the point of sale via APIs.“2019 was a critical year for us. TireHub Passhelped us acquire several large retailers in the U.S. to fuel our growth,” he says. In 2020, they deployed a customer billing & payment platform and launched a new data warehouse to generate key operational insights.This was followed by technology to improve forecast accuracy and a route optimizer to ensure speedy deliveries.Within three years, TireHub’s digital products have driven new customer acquisition and growth, representing 90% of total volume.
TireHub’s technology successes and leadership has been recognized both within and outside of the company. In November of 2020, Ashok was honored asGeorgia CIO of the Year at theORBIE Awards as the winner in the Large Enterprise category. The CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards is the premier technology executive recognition program in the United States. This recognition only goes to chief information officers who have demonstrated excellence in technology and leadership. “I was incredibly humbled by this award, but it would not have been possible without my team. To them all, I am very grateful," Ashok says.
He continues, "the biggest influencer for getting me where I am today was my father– a big believer in servant leadership. He continually reminded me that leadership is an organic, evolving thing, and not a strict set or rules. It's some of the best advice that I have ever received."
Life has been good for Ashok since moving to Atlanta 8 years ago. "I want to emphasize how grateful I am to Atlanta for all that it has given me and my family," he says. "This is a place where there are always people around who will help you out, and I've benefited from several mentors. I believe in always returning the favor and actively mentor people who need help or advice."
While doing meaningful work, as with TireHub, Ashok is also able to be with his family a great deal more. Ashok and his physician wife,Hima,have made Milton their home in suburban Atlanta"I have all of my kids in competitive golf. The time commitment is intense, but we love it," he says.