How three friends turned rock-bottom business into an empire
THREE friends, turned business partners, have transformed themselves from rock bottom to national business in just two years.
Husband and wife, Terri and Clyde Shepheard, and co-director Jason Steele were in business together almost a decade ago when almost everything fell apart overnight.
They owned a transport business but it failed after three accidents in three months and a development deal fell over in 2015.
But their entrepreneurial spirit was not lost, with the three opening CQ Tyres from the ashes of their first business.
"It hit us hard and we were left having to sell out of the truck business, we closed it down," Mr Shepheard said.
"The tyre side of things came into play from just trying to offset our own costs originally, we decided to take it wholesale then retail and we've just grown it from that point."
The business received overwhelming support locally and since managed to tap into interstate markets.
"We now have warehouses in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide," Mr Shepheard said.
"Customers put in their order and pick them up from one of the locations and a lot of the bigger transport companies will fit them themselves.
"It's great to think we can be sitting here in Mackay, selling locally but also selling a couple hundred tyres a week in Melbourne too."
After the success of the tyre business, the three partners decided to diversify.
Mr and Mrs Shepheard opened a stock feed operation, SF Produce, taking advantage of their farming backgrounds and connections from their previous line of work.
"We decided rather than doing wholesale grain we'd go into retail and it all just began to evolve," Mr Shepheard said.
"Clients began hearing about it and would come in for tyres and leave with a bag of dog food as well."
The third business was also built from an opportunity.
The three business partners owned a lot of office space not utilised by the tyre or stock feed operations.
So they opened the Mackay Corporate Conference Rooms.
"All three businesses are going well and growing slowly, somehow we manage to fit it all in and maintain a work, life, family balance too," Mr Steele said.
He added while it could be difficult at times, with long days of work a daily occurrence, they each envisaged the end goal and knew all the hard work would pay off.
"We're all very like-minded which is why I think we've been able to work together so well all these years," Mr Steele said.
"We hit rock bottom once and we're still fighting our way out of it, but we just keep working and trying to build what we've got.
"We all have families at the end of the day and we're just doing our most to buy a lifestyle to keep us all happy and comfortable."