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Keith Evanosky of Keystone Automotive, YEN Member of the Month: "As Long as You Stay Focused, You Can Do Anything"

  Keith Evanosky
  Keystone Automotive's Keith Evanosky offers some insight into achieving a healthy work/life balance.

At 34 years old, Keith Evanosky of Keystone Automotive sets a good example on how to successfully manage working in a high-paced automotive aftermarket environment while raising a family of five.

Amazingly, he still makes the time to volunteer for charitable organizations. Evanosky’s dedication and ability to give 110% in everything he does has helped make him a fixture in the national accounts department at Keystone, where he has had the opportunity to work with automotive aftermarket retailers big and small.

What can Evanosky teach young executives about their work/life balance?

How do you find the time to do all this?
"I’ve never been happy unless I was going 90 mph with my hair on fire. I’m not a person who is content to sit there and watch the world go by. I want to pack as much into this life as I possibly can before I check out. People who are busy know how to prioritize tasks to get results. They don't have time to waste on minutia."

Many find it hard enough juggling work and family. You found time to volunteer with local charities. What was that experience like?
"It was a very rewarding experience. My wife actually heard a radio ad seeking volunteers for the Big Brothers program. She thought it would suit me. So with her blessing I signed up.

"Just spending time with someone and listening to them can do more than you could ever imagine. We would play basketball, go to movies, bike ride, talk about cars, girls and life in general. You don't think you're doing anything special until you realize that many of these kids have no one willing to spend time with them. Time is more valuable than money."

People seem to have to choose between their career or family because they have a hard time managing both. What advice would you give to someone at those crossroads?
"Why should you have to choose? You can do both. You may have to scale back some of your goals, but you don't necessarily have to eliminate them. At this point in my life, my family is top priority and all of my decisions are based on how it will not only affect me, but them as well. I can find another job; I cannot find another family.

"As long as you have the drive to succeed, you will find a way to manage both. It may seem like a pipe dream at times, but as long as you stay focused, you can do anything. I learned from my parents to make your own future and not to rely on someone else to do it for you. I am continually trying to instill that in my own children."

While some of your fellow YEN members got into this industry at an early age, you didn't start until a few years back. How hard was it transitioning industries?
"It was actually not that much of a stretch. I have been a life-long automotive enthusiast with a passion for GM musclecars. My professional career up to that point was primarily dominated by sales and marketing-related positions, so coming to work in this industry was a natural fit.

"Working for Keystone was the perfect combination for me. The key is to not become frustrated in the early stages. Try to learn a new aspect of the job each day and continue to add to that knowledge. Each position and company is different, but one day in your training you will have your 'ah ha" moment where everything you’ve been taught will click. Once that happens, the light turns green and you take off."

Keystone Automotive is one of the largest automotive WDs in the United States. What’s a normal day like there?
"There is no ‘normal’ day here. That's what drives me. Every day presents new challenges and new opportunities. Having the luxury of working for a company such as Keystone makes my job a little easier. It's nice having access to their wealth of resources, such as the countless number of industry veterans that work there. Some of these people have been at Keystone for 20-plus years. Their knowledge about this industry is remarkable and is one of the primary reasons we continue to hold a dominant position."

Any advice for someone looking to get into the automotive aftermarket?
"It's quite simple: you have to love cars and trucks. If you don't, save everyone the hassle and do something else. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Automotive people love to talk and share their knowledge. They are one of the friendliest groups of people I have ever met. Become friends with the people you work with, as they will give you an insight into your company that you can't get from a brochure or website.

"Learn from their experiences and let them learn from yours. I would also recommend using the vast amount of resources out there, such as SEMA, to build your knowledge base. There’s always something new to learn or a different way to do something you already learned. That's what makes this industry exciting for me."

In the last five years, you worked with a lot of automotive industry vets. Who do you look to as a role model? Why?
"If I had to pick one person out of the multitudes of people I have encountered while in this industry, I would have to say George Lathouris [Keystone Category Manager, Wheels]. He’s an industry veteran with a passion and energy for this business that is unmatched. I have never met one person in this industry who had anything negative to say about him as a person.

"He is honest, very knowledgeable about the industry and a little crazy. He is always there to offer advice if needed or brainstorm new ideas to drive sales. He exemplifies the term 'going the extra mile for the customer.’"