How did a young man with little passion for education become one of New Zealand's leading entrepreneurial businessmen? This is the story of Steve Lange and how Tony's Tyre Service became the largest independently owned tyre company in New Zealand.
After leaving school and a very short stint at Farmers Trading Company Steve began working as a tyre fitter for a business in Cambridge. At the age of 16, he decided to relocate himself and commenced work for a tyre company as a retreader and realised that if he put his mind to it he may be able to make a career in this industry. With this in mind he set about learning every job in the factory and soon held all the quality and quantity records. Much of this learning was done outside of paid work hours and not long after his 18th birthday and much to his surprise Steve was promoted to factory foreman.
He then set his sights on management and after a further 18 months began working for another company and at age 21 was asked to transfer to Palmerston North to manage a retreading factory. Steve decided at this point that the next step was to own his own business and he began to plan for this. In 1982 at the age of 23 he was approached by the then owners of a little tyre store in Palmerston North known as Tony's Tyre Service to see if he was interested in buying it. "YES"!! was the answer. Challenge number one, he had just purchased his first house and therefore had little or no funds available. He was introduced to Phillip Jones who also wanted to go into business but had little or no cash as well! Between them they managed to scrape together $20,000 and after being turned down for loans from every bank in the land, borrowed $25,000 from an Accountant, at an interest rate of 28%. On the 8th of June 1982 they took over at Tony's Tyre Service in Palmerston North.
Their mission statement was simple: - “To provide the best service in town and to sell as many tyres as possible". Business boomed. In 1986 they purchased a second store in Palmerston North. In 1987 Steve bought Phillip out. The rest is history. Tony's Tyre Service became the largest independently owned tyre company in New Zealand and had 20 stores and a massive 40% market share in the regions it operated in. This was achieved through delivering outstanding customer service, dynamic marketing and most importantly by employing and motivating fantastic people.
Steve sold Tony’s Tyre Service to Bridgestone NZ Ltd in March 2008.
Six Secrets to Success:
• Selecting the Right People
• Closing the Sale
• Customer Surveys and Why