Like any teenager, Reece Thompson clocked up a few hours in front of a computer while growing up. But instead of playing games, he started his own online business, which now sources and sells quality automotive parts Australia wide. At the age of 24, Reece has a big plan to establish shopfront locations to retail his own performance parts, but for the moment there’s plenty of time to build fast cars, fly planes, travel and play. Roger Marmion was keen to find out how a local boy built his successful online business.
What kind of childhood did you have growing up in the Great Lakes?
When I was young, I lived on Wallis Island with my family. I had to go by boat to the mainland and then catch the bus each day to get to school. This was a great lifestyle and taught me independence, and I miss living there. I actually remember on one occasion getting a lift to school from the island in a helicopter with a few mates. That was a great experience.
Living on Wallis Island allowed me to enjoy the wide open spaces surrounded by water. Fishing around the various islands was great. As kids, we had our own tinnies and spent a lot of time on the water.
We got to know all the spots for the best fishing and catching Blue Swimmers and Mud Crabs. I spent a lot of time exploring the island on a quad bike – all 3,000 acres of it. I had many friends come visit every weekend, and we spent a lot of time at the rope swing. It was a great childhood!
With the aerodrome on Wallis Island, I soon developed a keen interest in aviation. I used to get to go flying nearly every day. I have continued this interest in aviation and am currently doing my pilot’s licence. My most recent flight was flying through Katherine Gorge in the Northern Territory.
> How did your business idea come about?
I started using computers in primary school. As I grew older, I really appreciated and realised what a tremendous communication tool they were. Playing games was one thing, but that never really interested me. The communication aspect was what I enjoyed most. I learnt how to buy and sell things without leaving home at an early age. Computers are a fascinating and practical tool.
I started playing with outboard motors and fixing them at a very young age in my parents’ shed. I then started an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic. Fascinated by cars, mechanical parts and their functionality, I became intrigued by how I could get better performance from these engines. Having left school at a young age, the normal opportunities of employment seemed remote, especially in a small area. This did not faze me. I decided I would make my own opportunities and went into business for myself.
> How did your business get started?
I came from a hard working self-employed family and was determined not to go on the dole. I started importing and selling motor bikes. From there, I started dabbling in parts, engines and turbos. I’ve always had a keen interest in turbo cars, so I decided to start selling performance parts.
Performance cars are a passion of mine, and I have my own performance vehicles which I have built into a business from a hobby in my spare time. Rather than selling someone else’s performance brand, I decided to make my own.
I progressed to manufacturing quality, cost-effective performance parts to suit a wide range of cars. In addition to manufacturing and importing, I also provide the services of qualified mechanics to carry out performance work and assemble parts both locally and on the Gold Coast.
> What were some of the challenges?
The main challenge I faced initially was the import approval and getting all my stuff through customs and finding companies overseas that could build my parts to the quality and specification that I wanted. My biggest challenge today is people selling rubbish on eBay.
So many people are buying low-quality performance parts from overseas, and the market is flooded with Chinese rubbish. It’s hard to compete – that’s why my number one goal was to make quality, cost-effective performance parts. I have now achieved this.
> What are some of the performance parts you specialise in?
Turbos and turbo kits to suit a wide range of cars, including diesel engines: intercoolers; silicone hoses; manifolds; wastegates and blow off valves. I also specialise in turbo-charging non turbo cars.
> Where do you get some of your orders from?
My orders come from all over Australia, and I sell to all types of people and businesses.
> How easy is it to find time to get away and relax?
I am very fortunate that most of my business and electronic transactions are undertaken at night. Because I manufacture and import from overseas, most of my daylight hours are free. This gives me plenty of leisure time to follow my other pursuits – flying planes and helicopters, jet-skiing, travelling, riding motorbikes and fishing in the Northern Territory.
> Where do you think you’ll set up your first shop?
I am aiming to set up my first shops in both the Gold Coast and Darwin. I intend to do this, as there is a large demand for my type of work in those areas.
> So, how’s life for you at the moment?
I enjoy my lifestyle, because I have the freedom of travel. I can work in Darwin, from Cairns to Nabiac and anywhere in between.
My business is known as JDM PERFORMANCE and my website address is www.jdmperformance.com.au
> Thank you Reece.