Family support helps CJ Autosport get into gear

Getting support from his partner’s family helped Colin Johnston turn his dream of starting his own garage into a reality.

The former heavy goods mechanic was able to give up his job of 10 years with the local council in December after Central Rebar, his partner’s family business, provided him with the space he needed to build a bespoke garage.

Having invested his own money to kit out the space, he turned to Business Gateway Clackmannanshire for advice on how to run the business, and with his adviser’s help not only secured a grant that paid for CJ Autosport’s signage, he received support with branding, his website and HR.

The business, which offers the full range of garage services including MOTs and performance car maintenance, has now been running full-time for just over a month and has already had to take on its first member of staff to deal with growing demand.

Colin (35), from Alloa, said: “I’ve been a mechanic all my life, working on every kind of vehicle from lorries to my own track car that I race at Knockhill. I’ve always loved rebuilding engines for performance cars too. It’s just something I get a great joy out of doing so being able to start my own garage is a dream come true.

“My partner, Claire Jackson, had spoken to Business Gateway regarding her family business and her adviser, Dorothy Henke, then offered support to my garage. Dorothy’s advice was very useful, particularly because I’ve never ran a business before. I’ve invested a lot in getting started so Business Gateway’s support with funding was also a great help. Further guidance regarding employment documents also made taking on my first employee easier.”

Dorothy Henke, Business Gateway, said: “Colin has benefited immensely from family support – not only in the form of space to establish his business, but also advice from his partner’s father who has operated his own enterprise all his life. Claire also does his books and paperwork so he can focus on doing what he loves best – fixing cars. We are delighted that our guidance with contracts and marketing have helped the business get established.”

Having CJ Autosport on its premises in Kelliebank, Alloa, has also been a boost for Central Rebar, a family business that cuts and bends steel for leading construction firms throughout the UK.

After spotting an opportunity to provide the space to Colin to establish his business in its larger yard, which Central Rebar moved into in July, the firm has benefited from his expertise being on its doorstep.

Claire Jackson, from Central Rebar, said: “Having Colin on hand has meant that any mechanical issue that arises can be fixed quickly. This had helped us maintain our exceptional standards and our reputation for shipping orders on time, and that’s a huge benefit to us.”

To find out how Business Gateway Clackmannanshire can help your business call 01259 208426 or visit

PIC: Left to right – Michael Guild and Colin Johnston of CJ Autosport