Axial's Growth 100 : Tess Winningham

Tess Winningham

CEO, Quick Trick Alignment

Opportunity Alignment

Tess Winningham insisted she and her husband, Gary Gann, sell a tool he developed in 2010, despite his prediction that nobody would buy it. Little did Gary know, his clever tool would evolve into Quick Trick Alignment, a successful business generating more than $1 million in revenue in less than six years of existence.

Gary was a NASCAR enthusiast, and racing in the amateur Chump Car league was his hobby. He designed the first QuickTrick in 2010 because he needed a tool “to adjust the racecar alignment for each track and for all three angles of caster, camber, and toe.”

Tess believed the pair had a real business opportunity with his invention. She had years of experience in business and sales, and Gary had the skills of a master mechanic after years of working at a body shop and restoring old vehicles.

Testing the Market

Gary began making the wheel alignment tool in the kitchen stove of their Alabama home, and Tess began selling it on eBay with the use of PayPal, she says. In their first week, they sold two QuickTricks internationally and a few domestically.

“There was a need and we couldn’t find anything to fulfill that need, so we manufactured it,” Tess says. While there were pricey wheel alignment tools on the market, mostly geared towards professional racers, there was no affordable tool for the weekend racers.

“We did the right thing by testing the market,” says Tess. “eBay was the perfect model to prove there was a market for us. We had no advertising at all in the first year and a half, and people were finding us.”

For two years Tess and Gary were making and selling QuickTrick products from their house, and in 2012 they decided to establish an official business. By the end of 2012, they had an office less than two miles from their home. They bought an oven to cook the metal tool in, so they could stop using their kitchen stove.

Stepping on the Gas

As the company took off, sales extended beyond racers, hot rodders, and customizers and into the corporate world.

QuickTrick Alignment tools have the capability of measuring any angle of alignment at any place in time. Major clients of the company are fleet owning groups that utilize thousands of transportation vehicles. “They use our tools to check alignment at maintenance stops to prevent alignment issues,” says Tess. “They are saving a little over $3m by using us.”

Tess also says the military has a need for QuickTrick products. When stationed at a mobile base, the military can use these tools to check alignment on fire trucks and utility trucks.

“Mobile mechanics use us as well,” Tess says. “People can make a living with our tools.”

The company segmented into two separate brands that interconnect. Alignment Simple Solutions is aimed at commercial clients. It provides fleet solutions through a number of services offered.

QuickTrick Alignment is the portion of the company that manufactures the tools. They are designed to improve performance and lengthen tire life by catching any misalignments quickly and easily.

The success of Gary’s invention sunk in when QuickTrick won Alabama’s Governor’s Trade Excellence Award in March of 2012. “That was a turning point,” Tess says.

QuickTrick began gaining exposure in magazines and was featured on TV shows. In 2014, the company won an Alabama Launchpad grant and a SEMA Global Media Award.

The company sells directly to clients through their website and also has some distributors including Mac Tools, Summit Racing Equipment, and Speedway Motors. The company has one international distributor in New Zealand and QuickTrick tools are now sold in more than 100 countries.

“You don’t need a Rolex to tell time,” says Tess. “You don’t have to put thousands of dollars into equipment to accomplish the same thing QuickTrick can do for you.”

When they started to see success, Tess and Gary decided to pick a preferred charity to contribute to. They chose Victory Junction, an organization that developed a camp in Randleman, North Carolina for children with disease and disability. A family with a long history in the NASCAR community founded the camp.  

“We will continue to grow the product line as long as products are associated with alignment,” says Tess. “We really want to be the quality, economic choice when it comes to wheel alignment.”