Many people have a moment that defines their ability to succeed. For Jeff Cheek, that moment came in the form of disaster.
Just 10 weeks into becoming a tire dealer, Cheek arrived at work to find the entire computer system was dead. After returning to the shop with paper invoices, he found the shop’s air compressor on fire.
By 1 p.m. that day, Cheek and his team had located a motor for the air compressor. By 3 p.m. the team had retrieved as much data as possible from the dead system, transferring it to a new computer.
“During the day, I wasn’t really sure we were going to figure out all this stuff,” says Cheek. “When you are a small business owner you realize you are it. And making it through that I was like, if we can make it through this then we can probably figure out whatever else comes up.”
Fresh to the tire industry, Cheek made a life change in 2011 when he left his accounting job in Florida to become a tire dealer in Tennessee.
“I really wanted to be a small business owner, so my wife and I made a decision that that’s what we were going to do. We were going to quit our jobs and purchase an existing business. We also wanted to make a geographical move,” Cheek recalls.
When they came across Countryside Tire and Auto Service in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the business was a perfect fit.
“We thought it was something we could make a difference in. When you’re a tire dealer, you’re kind of part of the community,” Cheek says.
Cheek and his wife quickly found success, eventually opening a second location before consolidating both shops to a larger owned space that has since doubled the business’ size and number of employees.
For Cheek, the move to independent tire dealer suits him. A people person who was stuck crunching numbers alone at his desk, he used to crave interaction with people. Today he does just that within his business.
“This gives me an opportunity to interact with my employees, to get up and walk around the shop and work with my hands some, and also the most important thing is just the interaction with customers. I really enjoy that,” he says.
Fun Fact: If Cheek could be any animated character he’d be Bart Simpson.