31 YEARS STRONG: Gatton Spare Parts owner's Tom and Diane Exelb, alongside Gerry Breuer, who has worked with them for 27 of those years.
31 YEARS STRONG: Gatton Spare Parts owner's Tom and Diane Exelb, alongside Gerry Breuer, who has worked with them for 27 of those years. Francis Witsenhuysen

Tom's tips on succeeding in local business

TOM Exelby's goal was to own his own business and not only did he accomplish that goal, it is now one of Gatton's most trusted businesses.

For about six months after he built and opened Gatton Spare Parts, Tom said he would still have to kick himself.

"I'd wake up in the morning and think 'what the hell am I doing',” Tom said.

"But it was always something I wanted and I had committed, and you just got to keep going.”

The year was 1986 when it all began.

"We actually started out in the Gatton Star office building,” Tom said.

"In about Easter 1989 we bought this premises and moved in here.”

Tom has been a Gatton local for 47 years and became interested in mechanics and spare parts on the family farm.

"I was about 10 when I started pulling plugs off trucks and things - my dad would have to put them back in properly,” he said.

"It just comes natural after coming off a farm.”

After school, Tom's first job was in spare parts at A Falconer's Garage (the local Ford dealer) in 1971 and he's been dealing in automotive ever since. Soon after he decided to turn his knowledge and skills into a career.

Gatton Spare Parts will celebrate its 31st birthday this year and Tom puts the success of the business down to hard work, the support of his wife Diane, doing the right thing by his customers and having the right products at the right price.

"We are also the longest Autopro dealer in Australia, under the same management and ownership. We started with them in 1987,” he said.

"We don't inflate prices to have fake discounts - we just have a fair and reasonable prices across the board.

"Right parts, right price, right service is our motto.”

Tom thanked the long and loyal customers, suppliers and reps who had helped them along the way.

"It really is easier to keep a good customer then to keep finding new ones,' he said.

"We've had some really good support from good people since day one like J and I Ziebath, Ray and Gary Carsburg and the Van Ansems, just to name a few. I'd like to thanks to the long standing staff as well, like Gerry Breuer, who's been with us for 27 years.”

Mr Exelby admitted that running a business hadn't all been rosy.

"There's been highs and lows and a lot of hard work and long hours - all while trying to raise a family in-between,” he said.

"But our daughters come and help us when we need them too now, which is nice.”

Tom said expanding the business was a possibility in the future.

"For now we will keep doing what we are doing and make the best we can with what we've got,” he said.


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