The JEGS story
In the late 1950s, Jeg Coughlin Sr. was consumed by the burgeoning hot rod culture in America and like many youngsters, he was constantly looking for ways to make his own cars quicker and faster. At the time, that meant ordering the latest and greatest go-fast parts from some faraway place, usually located on the West Coast, and then suffering through an agonizing wait to get them in the mail.
Being located in the Midwest, there simply weren’t any other options, so Coughlin played the mail-order game and, bit by bit, began dominating everyone at the local drag strip with his newly-acquired parts. People were taking notice and Coughlin realized there was a huge demand for high-performance parts that simply wasn't being met.
Fueled with passion, Coughlin opened JEGS Speed Shop in 1960 on 11th Avenue in downtown Columbus, Ohio. From those humble beginnings, the company thrived for nearly 30 years until Coughlin sold his business to his four sons -- John, Troy, Mike and Jeg Jr. -- who took the operation to a worldwide audience. Now, 60 years since its start, JEGS sends millions of parts a year to customers across the globe.
"It's been a phenomenal ride," said Jeg Sr., who turns 82 in 2020. "When you think about starting out as a little project all those years back and then look at our facilities now, it humbles you. I credit the boys with much of our success. I ran the thing for 27 years and then sold it to them and they've since increased annual sales from about $20 million-a-year to a several hundred million-a-year. That speaks volumes to the work they've done.
"I'm especially proud of the fact we've used the business to make our family closer than most. Between the family aspect of what we do and the good business decisions we've collectively made, to me that's been the difference."
Through the years, JEGS graduated from the small speed shop on 11th Avenue, which is still serving customers, to a 85,000 square-foot facility that eventually gave way to a massive state-of-the-art world headquarters and distribution center in the Columbus suburb of Delaware, Ohio.
These days, more than 400 associates are now employed by JEGS, yet the company proudly maintains the culture of a small, family-run speed shop that still enjoys its one-on-one relationships with each customer.
JEGS' success can be attributed to the quality of products offered and the knowledge each associate shares with the ever-growing customer base, most of the time speaking with confidence about parts they've used themselves.
Jeg Jr., the youngest of the four brothers in change at JEGS High Performance, has watched it all come together.
"Like most successful businesses, we've been fortunate enough to have great people working with us through the years," Jeg Jr. said. "I think we now have 30 or so employees that have been with us for at least 20-25 years with a few of them in the 30- and 40-year range. They're all as much a part of the equation as anyone with the Coughlin name.
"We've also watched a third generation of Coughlins and multiple generations of our associates working with us, and that's exciting because it's a great indicator of this company continuing on for many more years."
That third generation of Coughlins also is expanding the JEGS brand to new markets through various racing endeavors. Since the beginning, motorsports have proven to be a test bed for many JEGS parts under evaluation. John, Troy, Mike, Jeg Jr., Troy Coughlin Jr., Paige Coughlin and Cody Coughlin have raced in multiple classes through the years, putting many of the parts sold at JEGS to the ultimate test of reliability before they are ever sold to customers.
An automated shipping department is filled with well-organized parts racks running the length of the enormous warehouse and stretch to the top of the 50-foot ceiling. All parts are stored in specific locations to ease the shipping process, and the computer-automated retrieval system, packaging and shipping assembly lines are enhanced with modern technology for heightened efficiency.
Once a customer purchases an item online or via a toll-free number, the order is processed electronically and sent to the warehouse where parts are automatically retrieved off of the shelves of a three-level, VNA, flow-rack system.
Everything funnels onto a conveyor so all the parts for one order arrive at the same place at the same time. Items are then boxed and weighed to make sure everything is accounted for, labeled, and sent to the shipping area to be loaded onto the trailer of the assigned logistics carrier.
"I think it's pretty impressive to reach 60 years in business," Jeg. Jr. said. "It speaks to the hundreds of wonderful associates we've had through the years and the consistency of products and services we've provided our loyal customers.
"Dad started this little speed shop in downtown Columbus with two employees and a big dream and now 60 years later we catalog thousands of parts and deliver millions of packages overnight worldwide. It's pretty incredible to stop and think about how far we've come in the last half century."
Would you like to learn more? Check out the JEGS RACING EDUCATION section on this website for downloadable PDF illustrations.