This is the story of Steve Lange and how Tony's Tyre Service became the largest Independently owned Tyre Company in NZ with a massive 45% market share.
Steve Lange's career started early in life. As a high school drop out Steve applied himself to learning everything he could about the tyre industry, often starting 2 hours early and finishing 2 hours after close, so he could practice what he'd learnt.
Buy the age of 18 he was promoted to foreman then again at 21 he was asked to transfer to Palmerston North to manage a retreading factory that had just been purchased.
By 23 Steve was the proud owner of Tony's Tyre Service which he brought, along with a partner using a loan from his Accountant at 28% interest.
Their mission statement was simple. "To provide the best service in town and to sell as many tyres as possible".
In 1986 Steve brought his second tyre shop and a year later brought his partner out. Then the 1987 crash hit and he struggled to hold it all together: He'd borrowed all this money, and then sales dropped, margins dropped and interest rates went up.
What was Steve to do? I got four credit cards and went and opened another branch in Wanganui. I just had to have cash flow to service my debt and that was the best way I knew how. It really saved my bacon because it went very well.
Over the next few years Steve Lange continued to walk a financial tightrope, borrowing to open more stores in pursuit of bigger cash flow.
Then, in 1991, it almost went down the gurgler. His local Westpac manager told him the bank would be calling in its $200,000 debt within 24 hours, and Lange decided the only thing to do was to go to the top. He flew to Auckland, strode into the Westpac chief executive's office and said, "If you guys are going to close me down tomorrow I suggest you put some arses on planes and take a look at my business."
Miraculously, a couple of arses were put on planes, and Westpac decided not only to rescind the threat to call in its debt, but extended him another loan.
The winning formula? Aside from Lange's enormous appetite for risk, he says he's been driven by a simple philosophy of Customer service
Step 1: The customer is always right
Step 2: If the customer is wrong Refer to step 1
Step 3: Recruiting the right people and giving them the liberty to express their ideas.
A thoroughly entertaining speaker Steve Lange will inspire you with what is possible, you and your business are bound to benefit from this original good old Kiwi success story