MILESTONE: Bob's wheels are still turning after 30 years
WHETHER it's employing local staff, buying goods or supporting community groups and charities on the Fraser Coast, businesses must think 'local' to not only survive but to create a flourishing community around them.
It's this strong belief that has seen Bob and Narelle Wicks turn a four-man show into a thriving tyre and four-wheel-drive accessories business that has now been servicing the Fraser Coast for 30 years.
Bob first started as the store manager of Nioa's Tyrepower when they first opened in Hervey Bay on December 11, 1988.
On January 2, 1992, Bob and Narelle bought the business and rebranded it Bob's Tyres - a 100per cent locally owned and operated business.
With a vision to expand across the region, it wasn't long before they bought another tyre store on Adelaide St in Maryborough and eventually moved the ever-growing Bob's Tyres into a purpose-built building in Rocky St where it still stands today.
A long-time dream to provide a bigger premises to cater for larger cars, buses, trucks, semi-trailers, tractors, earthmoving and agricultural machinery also came to fruition in March this year, with the family opening a Truck Centre on Industrial Ave in Dundowran.
Managed by Bob and Narelle's son Chris and trusted staff member Shayne Raisbeck, the extra arm to the business has freed up space in carparks on MainSt, not to mention eased parking woes for truckies in big rigs needing new tyres or accessories.
"We had been dreaming it up for a little while," Chris said.
"We were losing driveway access in town with buses and trucks and it was getting hard for customers to get in and out, so this out there is B-double friendly - we can have a 26m B-double drive in and drive out with no reversing.
"We have one full-time fitter and two sales staff out there.
"The boys in the trucks love it. About 80per cent of our commercial base is out at the industrial estate, so now they are within 1km of it and not having to drive their truck through traffic on Boat Harbour Dr and Main St.
"It has been really well received."
Together the businesses now employ about 30 staff, with Chris also managing the Maryborough shop.
Jason Livingstone is the manager of the Hervey Bay store and has been with the company for 20 years.
"The business has grown tenfold over the years," Bob said. "We've expanded around the region and have also been in Maryborough a long time. Maryborough and Hervey Bay are one and the same. I reckon they are one town, two suburbs, that's how I see it."
Together, Bob and Narelle have an extraordinary 'think local, buy local' ethic that extends beyond just good customer service.
The proof is on the wall of their Main St waiting room, which is home to hundreds of certificates of appreciation from clubs, groups and individuals who have been on the receiving end of the couple's kindness.
They sponsor the superboats, cricket clubs, Tinana P&C, Tinana Hockey Club and Granville Kindergarten, and many Fraser Coast sporting clubs and schools.
That includes Maryborough and Hervey Bay Special Schools, which received 140 pizzas as a treat for lunch one day.
Hundreds of their Fraser Island Ice Boxes have also been donated to the Hervey Bay, Fraser Island, Toogoom and Burrum Heads fishing competitions as prizes and giveaways.
They have entered a car in the Dunga Derby for the past four years, raising money for local charity Rally for a Cause which supports families and individuals with life-limiting illnesses.
Bob is also a member of Fraser Coast Mates, a newly formed group creating awareness for men's mental health.
The list is endless.
"Narelle and I look after lots of community groups and charities to make sure we have a better Fraser Coast community for our grandchildren to grow up in," Bob said.
"We do it because it brings people to the region and we want a better region - that's what it's all about.
"It's about looking after the community. If you look after the community, the community will look after you."
It's this kind of generosity that has forged unwavering respect and trust with Bob's Tyres customers.
Adding to that, Bob said, it was knowing what the customers want and having an exceptional team behind the scenes that the couple call their family.
"It's a combination of a lot of different things: being open when people need you open, having the product they need at the price they need.
"It's having the good people that work for us, like Jason Livingstone who has been with me for 20 years. It's real pleasure to have people work for us for that long.
"You have to be price competitive and give people great service and be a huge part of the community.
"That's why we are still standing ... there's not a lot of other businesses that last 30 years."
One of the business's biggest achievements was creating the Fraser Island Ice Boxes brand 15 years ago, which was thought up by Bob and his father-in-law over drinks while camping on Fraser.
The ice boxes are now sent all over the state and are complimentary to the massive range of four-wheel- drive accessories and camping gear also available at both stores.
"Now we sell thousands of them every year, anywhere from Darwin to Cairns, New South Wales and South Australia," Bob said.
And, of course, the team at Bob's Tyres know tyres - they are experts in their field.
If you are after a new set of tyres, puncture repairs or rebalancing, the business boasts great-value products and service for small and large cars, four-wheel- drives, trucks, tractors, earthmoving and agricultural machinery.
Bob's Tyres stocks major leading tyre brands including Continental, Mickey Thompson, General Tire, Yokahama, Cooper Tyres, Toyo, Falken, Maxxis and more, with only skilled tyre professionals fitting them. If they don't have what you're after in stock, they'll get it for you.
If you are looking to smarten up your four-wheel-drive, Bob's Tyres is the region's only authorised TJM dealer with a comprehensive range of off-road solutions.
It's also a major stockist of Century Batteries, CSA Alloy Wheels, Ox Recovery Gear, Britax, LightForce, and Rhino roof racks.
So whether you are after bull bars, tow bars, spotlights, suspension, racks and more, talk to the team at Bob's Tyres for great advice and professional fittings.
'"We'll find anything for you," Bob said.
"If you want an East Coast bull bar - whatever you want, we will go out of our way to find it for you."
Both showrooms in Hervey Bay and Maryborough are well stocked, so pop in and have a chat to the experienced staff.
The Hervey Bay store is located at 93 Main St, Pialba, and the Maryborough store at 14 Rocky St.