Golden Years of Speed and Service
JEGS Automotive came into being when Jeg Coughlin Sr. simply wanted to find the best high-performance parts for his own hot rods back in the late 1950s. That desire to be the best led him to open the doors of JEGS High Performance in 1960 and eventually led the company to become one of the largest and most successful automotive equipment suppliers ttin the United States.
Limited by his location in the Midwest and unable to find the parts he wanted for his cars, Coughlin opened JEGS High Performance in a small, non-descript shop in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Coughlin worked long and hard to find the best parts in the country, and soon was the guy everyone wanted to see for high-performance parts.
What began as small building where he worked on engines for friends soon became a full-fledged retail business through Coughlin's hard work and ingenuity.
Nearly 30 years later, Coughlin helped his four sons - John, Troy, Mike, and Jeg Jr. take over the operation. Under his son's guidance, Coughlin's small family business became a mail order giant.
The original 4,000 square-foot shop has grown into a 100,000 square-foot warehouse, a chassis shop, a call center, and the original retail store on the same grounds where it all began. The store is located on 11th Avenue in the metropolitan Columbus area.
Fifteen years ago, a massive state-of-the-art distribution center and world headquarters were opened. More than 350 associates are now employed by JEGS, yet the company maintains the culture started by Jeg Sr.: A small, family-run speed shop that preserves its one-on-one relationships with each customer.
"It's been a phenomenal ride," Jeg Sr. said as he reflected on the company's growth. "When you think about starting out as a little project all these years back and then look at our facilities now, it humbles you. I credit the boys with so much of our success. I ran the thing for 27 years and then sold it to them and they turned around and took us from a $20 million-a-year shop to a $200 million-a-year company. That speaks volumes to the work they've done.
"I'm especially proud of the fact we've taken this business and used it to make our family closer than most. Between the family aspect of what we do and the good decisions we've collectively made along the way, to me that's been the difference."
Much of the decades of JEGS' success can not only be attributed to the quality of products offered, but also to the knowledge of associates because what they are selling to customers, they've already used themselves.
Jeg Jr., the youngest of the four brothers who run JEGS High Performance, has watched it all come together.
"Like most businesses that do well, we've been fortunate enough to have great people working with us through the years," Jeg Jr. said. "I think we now have 25 or so employees that have been with us for at least 20 years with a few of them in the 30- and 40-year range. They're all a big part of this and they're as much a part of the equation as anyone in the Coughlin family.
"We're now starting to see a third generation of Coughlins and multiple generations of associates coming into the business, and that's exciting, too, because you can see that this company is going to continue on for many more years."
That third generation of Coughlins is expanding the JEGS brand into new markets. John's son Cody was crowned the 2013 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion in his pursuit of a stock-car career. Several other younger Coughlins enjoy competing in NHRA Jr. Dragsters, reaching fellow drivers that begin racing as early as 8 years old.
Racing has proven to be a test bed for many JEGS parts under evaluation. John, Troy, Mike, Jeg Jr., Troy Jr. and Cody raced in different classes and applications over the years to try out parts before JEGS sold them.
JEGS also carries a line of Jegster suspension parts that are designed, developed, and manufactured at the original 11th Avenue shop.
That shop remains, enabling the comfortable "walk in and buy" theme established by Coughlin many years ago.
The bulk of current business, however, transacts at JEGS headquarters in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, Ohio. The expansive main building is more than 225,000 square-feet and is divided between offices in the front and an enormous, automated warehouse in the rear.
The impressive front area includes all of the administrative offices, a bank of knowledgeable sales associates, and a unique cafeteria featuring a racing-theme. The warehouse and order-processing layout is exceptionally efficient and effective.
An automated shipping department is filled with well-organized parts racks that run the length of the enormous warehouse and stretch to the top of the 50-foot ceiling. All parts are stored in specific locations to ease the shipping process, and the computer-automated retrieval system, packaging, and shipping assembly lines are enhanced with modern technology for heightened efficiency.
Once a customer places an order online or over the phone, the order is processed and instructions are sent electronically to the warehouse to pick parts off of the shelves in a three-level flow rack system, the automated retrieval system, and the large VNA racking area.
Everything funnels onto a conveyor so that all the parts for one order end up at the same place at the same time. Your items are then boxed, weighed to make sure everything is accounted for, labeled, and sent to the shipping area to be loaded onto the trailer of the assigned logistics carrier.
Fifty-five years is just the beginning for JEGS and Team JEGS racing as the second and third generations of Coughlins are racing straight line and circle tracks.
"In today's day and age I think it's pretty impressive to reach 57 years of being in business," Jeg. Jr. said. "It speaks to the hundreds of wonderful associates we've had over the years and the consistency of product and service we've provided to our loyal customers.
"Dad started this little speed shop in downtown Columbus with two employees and a big dream and now 50-plus years later we catalog thousands of parts and deliver millions of packages overnight worldwide. It's pretty incredible to stop and think about how far we've come in the last half century."
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