When I was about 11 years old, my family’s business had grown large enough for us to rent a single store front out of a local strip mall in the outskirts of Memphis. This was a big deal for a number of reasons. For it’s first couple of years, Diesel Care and Performance operated completely out of our house and backyard shed. We had cores and parts shipped to our front porch, the kitchen table was our accounting office, and everyone in the family pitched in. After school, I would build return line kits while my brother boxed up pumps. As the business grew, our house resembled more of a parts garage than a suburban home.
Learning from the Job
For my brother and I, the new office meant our Dad could quit his main job as a road salesman to pursue Diesel Care full time. We loathed when he would leave early on Monday mornings, and every Thursday night we patiently waited for him to return. Once he was home, he enjoyed a home cooked meal while we all recounted the highlights of the week. We knew he only had a couple of hours before he had to start building all the orders that had come in since Monday. Long into Friday and Saturday nights, we’d blast Travis Tritt albums attempting to drown out the roar of the test stand. To us, Diesel Care was the time for catching up with our dad. We learned math by totaling up invoices and every pump calibration was a mini science lesson. As a kid, you don’t realize the risk of quitting a stable job and betting it all on your online diesel parts business and in 2005, the whole idea was unheard of. Nonetheless, my parents knew they had created something special, and in order for it to meet its full potential, we had to go all in.
New office, Who Dis?
The night my parents got the keys, we all went to check out the new office. My parents were so proud; both grinning from ear to ear as dad opened the door for the first time. When you walked in there was a small sales counter, with space for a couple of desks and a shipping table behind it. Thankfully the previous tenants had left behind some old office furniture. Zach and I ran around the whole place, claiming which desks were ours and arguing over where to put shelving displays and shipping supplies. We debated paint colors and pictured chrome countertops for customers waiting on their pumps. The majority of the unit was a large bay area with a roll up door at the other end, perfect for some test stands and a couple work benches. It would soon be the first official fuel shop of DCP, busting at the seams to deliver parts to people across the country. On that first night the space was completely empty and uncluttered. It didn’t take long for my brother and I to grab the abandoned rolling computer chairs and set up a race way in the bay. We spent a good hour racing down the smooth concrete floor, the winner declared loudly by who could hit the metal door first.
Growing all the Time
Back then it was all the space in the world, and we never dreamed we would fill it up so quickly. Our family business became your typical mom and pop repair shop. We had a couple of technicians, eventually we hired some office staff to help with the phones and shipping. Our break room was a single coffee pot and mini fridge with a small microwave on top. For Zach and I, the shop was our second home. It became our after school program of sorts, spending 3:00 to 5:00 doing homework and boxing up orders until closing time. We had competitions on who could build a box faster. Zach learned how to drive in the parking lot. It was a unique childhood, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Now We’re Here
Since that first office, we went on to rent three more store fronts in the strip mall. Eventually, we moved into an old car dealership for several years before purchasing our current warehouse. Today, we operate out of a 23,000 square foot facility in North Memphis. This houses our main remanufacturing fuel shop, sales department, and warehouse space. This past January, we opened our new drive in shop, Diesel Care and Repair a few miles south of the main warehouse.
It’s odd to think that most of our customers today see us as just another online option instead of a brick and mortar business. Our company is confined to a phone screen, one of ten suppliers that people see pop up on their google search. Most people don’t know we were one of the first companies to offer diesel parts online back in 2004. With a lot of hard work and a lot of luck, we forged our own way in the diesel industry. When you look back now, it’s hard to understand what a radical idea it was. The thought of buying something before you had seen it in person, and from someone states away, was crazy. Most people thought e-commerce and smart phones were just the new trend. No one really comprehended the impact of the internet and how it would revolutionize the economy. For my family, it allowed us to truly pursue the American dream and offer quality diesel products to people across the globe.
Today, I wish I could shake our customers’ hand, tell them the back story that led us here. For now, I’ll have to settle for blog posts and a snap shot on Instagram. If you’re ever passing through Memphis though, drop by for a visit. We have the chrome top sales counter we always dreamed of. My brother and I now work in the company full time. After hours, you can sometimes still catch us racing pallet jacks through the warehouse.
Chief Financial Officer of Diesel Care and Performance