Local brothers team up to get the tyres rolling at JAX Tyres Orange
Two brothers are hoping that the old adage 'the family that plays together stays together' applies equally well to a business partnership.
Alan and Graeme Sharp were born and bred in Orange, in the NSW Central West, and are now the co-owners of JAX Tyres in their home town, joining a 70-store chain that stretches from Cairns to Tasmania.
The site is like a second home for Alan who started his career in the tyre industry 20 years ago, working for former owner, David Smedley when the store operated under the JAX Tyres banner. Alan returned as an employee four years ago before he and Graeme took over late last year, after David announced he wanted to retire.
"It's a good business, really well established," Alan says.
"And we're extremely fortunate that the team David put together has stayed with us. There are 11 faces that people around here know and trust, so when they walk in, they will get the same welcome they're used to, and the same expertise.
"Graeme"s the only 'new' face, even though people know him well anyway."
The Orange store is one of the original JAX stores and was actually established 30 years ago by David Smedley, who has now passed the baton to the two brothers. They have taken different paths to this partnership, although there have been similarities along the way.
Alan went into the motor trade straight from school, initially working with well-known local dealer Tony Leahey for several years.
"Then I came to JAX for four years, before moving into the laundromat business. I owned two of them in town for about 15 years then sold them to come back here."
Graeme's career started at Norman Ross where he worked for 10 years before another 17 years under the Harvey Norman banner.
"By then I needed a change so I spent 15 months on the road as a rep. It was very enjoyable but, as it has turned out, very short! That was only last year - then Alan called me and made me an offer I couldn't refuse!"
Despite the apparent differences in career, the bottom line is that both involve customer service and the brothers are very clear that taking care of people is the only way to make any business successful.
"We try to give the best service we can and the best prices we can," Alan says.
"People appreciate that and they keep coming back. This place has a very good reputation. If people think 'quality tyres at a good price', it's JAX they have always come to, and now it's JAX Tyres they come to."
"The secret to a good business is maintaining high levels of good service and the best prices around," says Graeme.
"Friendly faces are important too. People don't want to come in and see people who don't have a smile on their face.
"We have plenty of competition in town. All the big names are here, plus an independent, but we're the biggest. We've got the best buying prices in town, so we can pass on the savings to the customers, but we also pride ourselves on the standard of service we offer."
The 'dynamic duo' is happy with the way things are tracking and confident their combined skills and network of contacts will enable them to make the business even more successful than it already is.
"It's working out well," says Alan.
"We haven't strung each other up as yet," he laughs, "so it must be going okay. Plus, between us, there are not a lot of people in town we don't know, so that's good for business."
As to who is the boss, Graeme will concede to his younger brother - for the moment.
"He has the knowledge of this business and I'm still learning, but I actually can't imagine there being any power struggles. We both have skills and expertise that are good for the business. It's a good balance."
Out of working hours, Graeme enjoys getting involved in different activities with partner Cathy and their three children, while Alan and wife Julie are heavily involved in local soccer with their two sons. Alan also plays the game, with 2008 being his 'comeback' year as a player after a year off following a shoulder reconstruction.
JAX Tyres Orange offers a variety of mechanical services such as brakes and suspension as well as supplying and fitting the world's leading tyre brands including Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin, and Pirelli and a wide range of top-line alloy and steel wheels.
Customers who buy two tyres and a wheel alignment at Alan and Graeme'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.