Milestone for popular Roscommon-based family business
Motor Supplies is celebrating 40 years in business this year since its establishment in Co. Galway in 1976 by the Higgins family. The business premises is located in the Astor Buildings opposite the Medical Centre in Roscommon town and supplies an extensive range of car accessories and parts to private customers, main dealers and mechanics in Roscommon and surrounding areas.
“It started with our uncle Michael in Co. Galway and he convinced our dad, Kevin, to come back from England where he was working at the time and to get involved in the business,” explained Keith Higgins. “Dad and our uncle, Liam, were given the opportunity to take a place in Castle Street in Roscommon (where Castle Street Tyres is now) and they rented there for two years.”
The current Motor Supplies premises was opened in 1981 and has seen many changes in the automotive industry since. Mark Higgins picks up the story.
“We used to have nine vans and one truck on the road,” he tells me “but as time went by the delivery service wasn’t needed so in 2002 we decided to focus on Roscommon and surrounding areas.”
The business deals with all of the garages in the town and therefore standards need to be maintained and that’s where the lads’ broad mechanical knowledge comes into play.
“Look,” says Keith, “in this business it’s so important to have high quality parts and to have the knowledge to back it up. Suppliers will offer parts and accessories to us and we will use these products in our vehicles. I live in Bellharbour in Co. Clare and Mark lives in Craughwell in Co. Galway, so you can be sure that these parts are being put to the test!”
The Higgins brothers invite me behind the counter in order to see just how extensive their selection of parts is. Row upon row of brake pads, calipers, timing-belts, wheel bearings, head gaskets, batteries and so on lined the concrete bunker behind the counter. I put their knowledge and selection to the test.
“Lads, there’s a strange knocking sound when I turn the wheel, any ideas?”
Keith was about to answer when a customer came to the front counter. Mark didn’t miss a beat, searching for and finding the part I had been told to get following my most recent service. Stocking parts is one thing, the knowledge to assess and advise another.
Also behind the counter there were paint rooms and Keith told me he had recently been to the UK on a ‘spray course’. The world of motoring is changing rapidly and suppliers are forced to keep up with the trend. So what’s the biggest change in the motoring industry since Motor Supplies was established? “Well exhausts are definitely up there,” says Mark. “Our father used to stock hundreds of them, but now, with improved materials and technology, they last a lot longer! “Also, this thing,” he said ushering me towards a mini-laptop, “Amazing technology, we offer diagnostics for €30. It’s vital in this day and age with modern sophisticated cars.”
During our one-hour chat, numerous customers arrived at the shop looking for parts and advice. It wasn’t just a case of checking a computer and handing out parts. Keith and Mark offered advice and in some cases interjected if the customer was heading down the wrong path. It’s this type of service which has kept Motor Supplies in business for the last forty years. The adaptability and passion for motoring held by Keith and Mark is likely to keep it going for the next forty.