This month’s Final Word comes from Dennis Stone, AAA EVP of Automotive Services. He’s as American as apple pie, and he’s as approachable as the finest neighbor you’ve ever known. Read on to find out what makes this automotive veteran tick at 5:01.
The AAA brand is iconic. Give an example of this fact.
It’s one of the top 20 trusted brands in the world and really best known for the automotive road side assistance. There are other sides to the business such as insurance, safety patrol, driver safety and travel, which are the biggest examples. I think back to the road-side assistance and how we’ve changed people lives. We’ve unlocked babies out of cars and helped elderly who have locked themselves inside of their cars. So, it’s pretty amazing.
Where is the strangest place you’ve seen a AAA sticker? Where is the most memorable?
Strangest place: on a dumpster [laughs]. Most memorable: to see the AAA emblem on the side of a battery. In 39 years, I never thought we would brand a battery.
What’s more important: time or money?
I think time is really important to people today. They have so many other interests and hobbies besides work. From a AAA standpoint, we try to get to people as fast as possible because we realize time is money.
How fast can you change a flat tire?
I thought seven to 10 minutes. But I remember changing a tire on a motor home at one of the Ohio State games and I probably took less than 20 minutes to change the tire. So, that’s kind of a unique one.
Do you collect anything?
Old fishing lures. Even better, I make my own.
You get pulled over for speeding. Do you show them your AAA card or your license?
My license [laughs].
What was your first car?
A 1950 Ford. The old beast would run down stop signs if I needed it to [laughs].
What traffic law would you change?
Some type of mandatory insurance law. I feel there are so many uninsured vehicles out there today.
Fast and Furious or Bullitt?
Bullitt. I love those old muscle cars.
Describe your Death Row dinner.
Cream chip beef, lima beans, a glass of milk and banana cream pie.
Is AAA more American than apple pie?
I’d say no. But probably when we think back, it’s as American as we can get.
What talent would you most like to have?
Marketing. I love to market things, and I’m not that good at it.
What is the most memorable speech you’ve heard?
JFK’s inaugural speech.
Describe your fondest memory growing up.
My brother and I got into go-cart racing. I actually bought a cart, and then my parents bought me a chain saw engine. That was a time when we raced on old freeways that were never completed.
What is one thing few people know about you?
I used to race go-carts. I loved racing go-carts.
What was your wedding song?
“My girl” by The Temptations.
What inspires you?
Helping people. I enjoy helping others.
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve purchased, and was it worth it?
I bought a Triton fishing boat, my dream boat.
You get to choose the next law to pass. What is it?
Safety and distracted driving I think are the biggest issues.
Your father taught you to always _____ and never _____.
Always respect your elders and never let your car gas gauge get below half a tank [laughs].
Do you cut your own lawn?
Yes, I do.
What are you a sucker for?
My grandkids. They come first.
What really pisses you off?
I try not to get into anger too much, but losing a big fish really pisses me off more than anything.
What is the hardest car to repo?
At AAA, we don’t really repo anything. But, the hardest car to tow is a Porsche. It’s very intricate.
Gin, vodka or scotch?
Vodka. It’s a Bloody Mary before the OSU games.
Favorite vacation spot?
I love cruising. Probably the best one I did was Alaska.
Name your gambling game of choice?
I don’t gamble much. I’d rather spend my time outdoors.
What makes you get out of bed?
Just enjoying every single day. I’m an old Vietnam Vet. I came back from a war and realized life is very short. My whole thought and theory is that you have to like what you’re doing, every day.
When reading through the newspaper, what kind of headline grabs your eye?
I love positive news, like people helping people.
What is something you always find yourself saying?
“Here today, gone tomorrow.”
You are mandated to read the same book every year. Choose it.
"The Ultimate Gift."