Main Street of McPherson, KS is home to many shops, restaurants and local businesses in historic buildings celebrating the city’s prairie heritage. Right around the corner from the National Landmark McPherson Opera House, you’ll also find JAR Performance Automotive. Jeff Reitz, owner of JAR Performance, bought his shop just over five years ago and, since then, has been working on restoring people’s perceptions of the automotive industry. He and his team are striving, he says, “to our community’s needs and prove that there is such a thing as an honest mechanic.”
This shop owner lives and breathes cars. Even when he’s off work you can find Reitz working on his own project cars in his garage at home or going to car shows or races. He also enjoys remodeling his house, constantly doing work on it. Any additional free time he has is taken over by doing fun activities with his three kids, he says.
Always the entrepreneurial type, Reitz says he always envisioned owning his own shop. Jeff completed the Automotive Restoration Degree Program with an emphasis on Business Administration at McPherson College, the only accredited restoration program in the world. As a student, he says he learned many different aspects of the repair industry, skills ranging from mechanical and engineering, to upholstery and interiors. He even took woodworking and metal shaping classes.
Before opening JAR, Reitz and his wife were looking to relocate. While on the search for a house large enough to install a lift and start a repair shop “on the side” they found the deal of a lifetime. Johns Motor Service, an established local shop was for sale. The turnkey facility allowed him to continue to serve his community, utilizing all the skills at McPherson College. “The skillset learned there is so broad that it can truly be utilized in virtually any industry.”
One thing he’s learned throughout the years is the importance of picking the correct supplier. That’s why JAR Automotive is a Gold Certified NAPA AutoCare Center, with NAPA as their primary supplier. They are also utilizing the Tulsa Parts Connection, which is a group of dealerships that run a delivery route overnight for almost any OEM part. Other local shops and parts stores have sourced OEM pieces through them because of this access! The other big thing he’s learned is the difference training can make. So, his shop works hard to ensure everyone on the team is ASE Certified at some level. Even the office staff is trained, having the C1 Customer Service certification.
Now, JAR Automotive has expanded from one technician and one service writer to six full-time employees. Since 2016, the shop’s annual sales have increased by 340% and Reitz is expanding to a new location with over 10k sq. ft. within a year. He is busy, but in the best way.
With the shop expansion on the horizon his hands are full, but not how he used to be before becoming a DRIVE client. In the past, he “was always filling positions and working for the business rather than working on the business.” He’s looking forward to bringing on a shop manager and freeing up his schedule to go on vacation with his family.
Looking forward to the rest of the year, Jeff is excited to attend his first DRIVE EXPO in August. One of his favorite things is talking to other shop owners, and the EXPO is the perfect place to network. “I enjoy learning some of the strengths, weaknesses, and obstacles others have overcome in their journey and learning how to apply that knowledge to our own,” he says.
When asked for business advice, Reitz says his recommendation is simple: “Take the first job you can get. When I was in college, I attended a seminar where the speaker had taken a custodial job at a bank after college, and later bid on a teller position. At the time of the seminar, he was the primary owner of a chain of several large banking institutions. When I graduated college, I took a temporary job on a production line and in 13 months had earned the position of Supervisor. Later I became Operations Manager and then accepted a Shop Foreman role in a large fabrication shop. These years of personal growth prepared me for business ownership. Take the first job you get and make the most out of it.”