Family team takes over JAX Tyres Edgeworth
First impressions are the ones that count, especially when you are building a business, according to the newest 'recruits' in the JAX Tyres Tyre chain.
Gary Leighton and his son-in-law Steve Rapp have taken over the JAX Tyres store at Edgeworth, near Newcastle, one of a 70-store chain that stretches from north Queensland to Tasmania.
"A lot of people don't know about the store, but if we look after our existing customers with the right service and pricing so they're happy, the word will spread quickly," says Gary.
He was born and bred in Warwick, Queensland, before the Leighton family moved several times, finishing up at Lismore on the NSW north coast.
Gary's working life began with eight years at Australia Post before he moved into a career as a service station site manager for four years. In 1979, he discovered tyre retailing, initially as an employee. He enjoyed it so much he decided to buy a large national retail store, which he owned until last year.
Gary had planned to try something different when he sold the business but a friend who owns a JAX Tyres store asked him to lend a hand; eight months later, Gary heard the company's Edgeworth site was available.
"Steve had been my manager at the previous store for 14 years, but he was talking about wanting to get out of Sydney and I was thinking the same way. We came up to have a look and now we're partners. And so far, so good!"
Steve first started dating Gary's daughter Leesa around 17 years ago and they've been married for 10 years.
Born and bred at Penrith, Sydney, Steve did a wide variety of jobs when he left school, including labouring, car detailing, managing hotels and working in the state government archives.
"I was actually on holidays from the archiving job one Christmas break and Gary was flat-out. He asked me to give him a hand as a tyre fitter and I never went back."
Steve says he and Gary are settling into life very happily in the Edgeworth area, with their wives and - in Steve's case - two young children. They've been accepted by the community and they both enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and gentler pace that the Newcastle beaches and Lake Macquarie have to offer.
"But from a business perspective, it doesn't really matter where you are, people need work done on their cars," Steve says.
"As long as you treat everyone with the same level of respect and honesty, they will keep coming back, and that's the way we like to do business."
JAX Tyres Tyres Edgeworth offers a variety of mechanical services such as brakes and suspension, as well as supplying and fitting the world's leading tyre brands including BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Falken, Goodyear, Michelin, and Pirelli and a wide range of top-line alloy and steel wheels.
Customers who buy two tyres and a wheel alignment from Gary and Steve's store are eligible for membership of the JAX Tyres Gold Club Tyre Maintenance Plan, which offers huge savings on new tyres, tyre maintenance and servicing, as well as a range of special offers. Gary also offers another useful service for his customers - he's a justice of the peace and happy to sign documents when needed.