Though Wenatchee-based Jerry’s Auto Supply has endured through the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t been without challenges and lessons learned.
“We’re in a very resilient industry,” said WR board member Krista Beck, who is President and CEO of Jerry’s. “People aren’t buying new, they’re fixing what they have.”
Jerry’s caters to do-it-yourselfers who make repairs and maintain vehicles ranging from the family sedan to trucks, delivery fleets, even giant farm combines. Founded in 1946, Jerry’s is a familiar name in the markets it serves. The company employs 90 people who staff eight retail locations including two in Wenatchee, and others in Chelan, Cashmere, Leavenworth, Moses Lake, Omak and Brewster.
When the pandemic overtook Washington State nearly a year ago, Beck had to adjust how her company did business as most retailers did. Employees and customers alike had to become comfortable wearing masks and keeping their distance from each other. Some employees felt they needed to remain home to be safe. Others took leaves and never returned to their jobs. It also became a greater challenge for the company’s suppliers to provide Jerry’s with the parts it needed to compete.
Despite staffing and supply challenges and the high unemployment that has resulted from the pandemic, Beck said Jerry’s business volume has not suffered. Its company motto is: “Our parts bring you in and our people bring you back.”
The company’s reliance on its motto and business basics have seen it through 10 months of the pandemic, Beck said.
“I think it’s been perseverance,” Beck said. She emphasizes two business fundamentals: hiring reliable employees who understand parts and the needs of vehicles and offering reliable customer service.
As she reflected on adjusting to the pandemic so far, Beck said she’s learned a few valuable lessons. Though Jerry’s has always stressed customer service and valued its employees, Beck said it does so even more today.
One outgrowth is that Beck is exploring adding a retirement plan to the comprehensive health care Jerry’s has provided throughout its history. She wants valued employees to know they can plan a career with the growing company.
“We’re in a very competitive industry,” Beck said. “We’re looking to hire.”