Although he has years of experience coaching wrestling, Coach got the idea for his title from former Tires Plus leader Tom Gegax’s book, “The Big Book of Small Business.” In the book, Gegax uses football analogies for his staff.
“I wanted everyone to think of me as the coach; that’s exactly how I think about my role,” Coach says. “I find the right players, make sure they are in the right positions, make sure they know the rules of the game, makes sure they know the objective is to win the game and then let them go out and do their job.”
Coach is proud to be an independent tire dealer because of the people: both the customers and his team.
“I think the reason I’m the proudest is it has truly allowed me to help so many people on our team,” he says.
Coach has been in the tire business for 30 years, getting started at a retread facility right out of high school and working for a string of tire dealerships through the years. To further his business knowledge, Coach attended an executive development program in 1998 at The Ohio State University, which helped him learn fundamentals and gain the foundation to open his own business.
To quote author and speaker Charlie Jones, Coach says, “‘You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.’ And if you’re not continually increasing your knowledge, the people you hang out with and work with, as well as the books you read, you become stagnant. I always encourage continuous training and educational opportunities, be those industry based or external in the true formal education world.”
In 2003, he put everything he had into starting JAM (stands for Jim And Mark) Best-One Fleet Service with Mark Krebs.
The first 30 days in business were rough; the dealership only sold one set of truck tires. Coach wanted to call it quits, but his wife Jennifer wouldn’t let him give up that easily.
“I came home about a month into it and told my wife, ‘Well that’s it. We are going to close it down.’ She said, ‘OK did the bank tell you to close it?’ I said no. She said, ‘Did the city tell you to close it?’ I said no. She said, ‘Did somebody else tell you to close it?’ I said no, it’s just nobody is buying, nobody will call us…and she said, ‘Well our house is on the line, get your ass out there and make it work.’”
His business partner’s wife said the same thing and the pair hunkered down to get business going. Today the business has grown to six locations, with revenue of roughly $20 million.
“You have to love what you do,” Coach says. “If you are happy and you’re passionate and you care and you’re having fun, then it’s going to make the day go a lot easier, it’s going to make the week go a lot easier and we are going to be a lot more successful because fun people are successful.”