Golden Years of Speed and Service
JEGS Automotive came into being when Jeg Coughlin Sr. simply wanted to find the latest high-performance parts for the hot rods back he raced in the late 1950s. His desire to be quicker and faster 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 in the United States.
Limited by his location in the Midwest and unable to find the parts he wanted for his cars, Coughlin opened JEGS in a small shop in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Coughlin worked long and hard to find the best parts in the country for himself, and after routinely beating the locals, he became the person everyone else went to for high-performance parts.
That small building on 11th avenue soon grew into a full-fledged retail business due to Coughlin's ingenuity and hard work.
Nearly 30 years later, Coughlin helped his four sons - John, Troy, Mike and Jeg Jr. -- take over the operation. Under their guidance, Jeg Sr.'s small family business has become a worldwide mail-order giant.
The original 4,000 square-foot shop has since grown into a 100,000 square-foot warehouse, chassis shop and call center on the same grounds where it all began. And, with a nod to the past, the original speed shop out front still serves customers on a daily basis.
Two decades ago, a massive state-of-the-art world headquarters and distribution center were opened in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, Ohio. More than 400 associates are now employed by JEGS, yet the company maintains the culture of a small, family-run speed shop that enjoys its one-on-one relationships with each customer.
"It's been a phenomenal ride," said Jeg Sr., who will turn 81 in 2019. "When you think about starting out as a little project all those 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 since increased annual sales from about $20 million-a-year to a several hundred million-a-year. That speaks volumes to the work they've done.
"I'm especially proud of the fact we've used the business to make our family closer than most. Between the family aspect of what we do and the good business decisions we've collectively made, to me that's been the difference."
Much of the decades of JEGS' success can be attributed to the quality of products offered and the knowledge each associates shares with a worldwide customer base, most of the time speaking about parts they've used themselves.
Jeg Jr., the youngest of the four brothers who run JEGS High Performance, has watched it all come together.
"Like most successful businesses, we've been fortunate enough to have great people working with us through the years," Jeg Jr. said. "I think we now have 30 or so employees that have been with us for at least 20-25 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 with the Coughlin name.
"We've also watched a third generation of Coughlins and multiple generations of our associates working for us, and that's exciting because it's a great indicator of this company continuing on for many more years."
That third generation of Coughlins also is expanding the JEGS brand to new markets. John's son Cody has brought a great deal of exposure to the brand in his pursuit of a stock-car career, and Troy's son Troy Jr. has done the same in the NHRA's Sportsman ranks. Several other younger Coughlins enjoy competing in Jr. Dragsters, reaching fellow drivers that begin racing as early as 5 years old.
Racing isn't just for marketing. Motorsports have proven to be a test bed for many JEGS parts under evaluation. John, Troy, Mike, Jeg Jr., Troy Jr. and Cody have raced in multiple classes and cars through the years, putting parts to the ultimate test of reliability before they are ever sold to customers.
JEGS also carries a line of suspension parts designed, developed and manufactured at the original 11th Avenue shop.
The bulk of current business, however, transacts at JEGS headquarters. 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 administrative offices, a bank of knowledgeable sales associates, and a unique, racing-themed cafeteria. The warehouse and order-processing layout is exceptionally efficient and effective.
An automated shipping department is filled with well-organized parts racks running 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 purchases an item online or via a toll-free number, the order is processed electronically and sent to the warehouse where parts are automatically retrieved off of the shelves of a three-level, VNA, flow-rack system.
Everything funnels onto a conveyor so all the parts for one order arrive at the same place at the same time. 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.
"I think it's pretty impressive to reach almost 60 years in business," Jeg. Jr. said. "It speaks to the hundreds of wonderful associates we've had through the years and the consistency of products and services we've provided our loyal customers.
"Dad started this little speed shop in downtown Columbus with two employees and a big dream and now nearly 60 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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