If you find yourself walking down lovely Main Street in McPherson, Kan., you’ll find many shops, restaurants and local businesses — one of which is JAR Performance Automotive.
Owner Jeff Reitz bought the shop just over five years ago. Since then, he has been working on repairing people’s perceptions of mechanics. He and his team are there to “serve their community’s needs and prove that there is such a thing as an honest mechanic.”
Reitz lives and breathes cars; even when he’s off work, you can find him working away on his “project” cars in his own garage at home. He can also be found going to car shows or races. He also enjoys remodeling his house and is constantly doing work on it. Any additional free time he has is taken over by doing fun activities with his three kids.
Reitz always envisioned himself owning his own shop, since he has always been the entrepreneurial type. He and his wife were looking to relocate, and their house was already on the market. 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: John’s Motor Service, a turnkey shop for sale.
Now, JAR Automotive has six full-time employees compared to the one technician and one service writer it had when opening. Since 2016, the shop’s annual sales have increased by 340%, and it will be expanding to a new location with over 10,000 square feet within a year.
Reitz 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.
Before owning his own shop, Reitz completed the Automotive Restoration Technology Program with an emphasis on business administration at McPherson College, the only accredited restoration program in the world. As a student, he learned many different aspects of the repair industry while getting his bachelor’s degree — skills ranging from mechanical and engineering to upholstery and interiors. He even took woodworking and metal shaping classes, and now he has utilized these skills in every aspect of his life, from running his shop to making repairs on his own home.
“The skillset learned there is so broad that it can truly be utilized in virtually any industry,” says Reitz.
Looking forward to the rest of the year, Reitz 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. He enjoys “learning some of the strengths, weaknesses and obstacles others have overcome in their journey and learning how to apply that knowledge to our own.”
One thing Reitz has 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 its primary supplier. It’s also utilizing the Tulsa Parts Connection, a group of dealerships that runs a delivery route overnight for almost any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) part. Other local shops and parts stores have sourced OEM parts through JAR Automotive because of this access. The other thing he has 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 ASE’s C1 Customer Service certification.
Take the First Job
His final piece of advice? 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,” Reitz says. “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. Those years of personal growth prepared me for business ownership. Take the first job you get, and make the most out of it.”