Joe Quigg didn’t start out as a “car guy.” He was never a technician and didn’t inherit a family business.
Instead, Quigg found his way into selling tires through chasing a dream: one day he wanted to run his own business.
So in the early 2000s, Quigg, who was selling payroll and HR services at the time, partnered with a friend to find a worthwhile investment. Quigg did the networking, and his friend, who made money in the dotcom era, provided the investment.
After meeting with a business broker, an opportunity popped up in Quigg’s hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Ed Melvin, the original owner of Ed’s Tire who started in the business in 1972, was looking to retire.
And with a little luck and Ed on his side, Joe made the jump in 2004 into life as an independent tire dealer when he bought five of Ed’s six stores without ever having been a business owner and knowing little about the tire industry.
“If you ask any businessperson or banker, you shouldn’t do it,” he says about making a first-time investment that large. “I didn’t know about the (tire) business, and I had never owned a business of that size, and I was just really lucky… (Ed) was true to his word and helped me through a bit of a transition period… and there was no turnover in any key positions.”
Despite his dream of being his own boss, Quigg didn’t walk in and completely change the entire operation. Instead, he chose to add his expertise to what was already working in the shop.
“Everybody was like ‘are you going to change the name and do this or that?’ and I said ‘I’m not changing a thing,’” he says. “It’s been running smooth. We’re going to come in and find out things and enhance it from a customer and employee experience.”
Those improvements included investing in new signage, revamping the facades of two stores, updating equipment and modernizing the waiting rooms by adding TVs and magazines and making each space more comfortable for customers.
For employees, he elevated the importance of training. Not only does Quigg take advantage of vendor training sessions, but he also set up a mentorship program for beginner technicians to “teach them how we want things done.”
Since Quigg experienced a huge learning curve when it came to the automotive side of the business, he made sure employee empowerment was a priority.
“I stressed to my managers that I wanted them to treat it like their store, and I gave them the flexibility to run it like they see it within their guidelines,” Quigg says. “There is some variation between store to store…but my solution is always to take care of the customer. Whatever we need to do to make it right, we make it right. It took a while to get into that mentality…but you just have to make it right.”
On the business side, though, Quigg says his background in HR, payroll and employee software gave him an edge.
“I came in aware of the laws and what you need to do from a healthcare perspective and to remain compliant from a business standpoint,” he says. “That’s a big area that I think a lot of people don’t think about or pay as much attention to.”
Today, Ed’s Tire & Service has four six-bay locations and another with four bays. They do about 77% service repairs and 23% tire sales, but every mechanic “does a little bit of everything,” Quigg says.
Looking back, Quigg says his investment has paid off. And he attributes part of his success to being customer first and teaching his employees how to educate others.
“I was that consumer that felt like every time you went to a tire and auto shop, someone was going to take advantage of you,” he says. “One thing I have learned and stress to my guys is to keep it simple. Educate the customer and get out and show them what you’re talking about and don’t assume that they know… One of the things I stress is keep it simple and keep the customer first.”