When Jonathan Schmitt, owner of A-Plus Automotive Repair in Mt. Juliet, found out a local woman had her car break down and was unable to make it to and from her job, he got involved.
It wasn’t in the form of a trip or two. It was in the form of a free car.
“This started a couple of years ago; I read a story about a lady who had posted on Facebook that she had spent all of the money she had on her car at a local shop and that it still didn’t work and that she couldn’t go back and forth to work, so we reached out to her,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt offered Rachel Utter a few good deals on engines without charging her for labor. He also had a few other ideas up his sleeve when he called her.
“At one point I was talking to him and he said, ‘Are you sitting down? We just bought you a car.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He is a phenomenal guy, what he does for the community.”
Utter said she would often just sleep in her car instead of driving to and from home; it just didn’t seem worth the effort to drive home.
“I was working two jobs, and I was working eight hours at each job at the time,” Utter said. “The car is still working great.”
That was in March of last year. This year, Schmitt received more than 3,000 “nominations” concerning families who are in need of a car. He has given away three cars already, and he and his team plan to deliver 11 more at the shop’s grand re-opening Sept. 17 at their new location.
He credits his employees who really “put their shoulders” into the projects, working overtime and on weekends and holidays to make the magic happen.
“They are the true backbone to completing and thoroughly inspecting the vehicles to ensure they are all in the best operating condition for these families,” said Schmitt who also delivers food to stranded families when they are locked in due to winter weather.
Schmitt was born and raised in New York, but moved to California when he was 17. He and wife, Jessica Schmitt, moved with their four children to Mt. Juliet in 2008.
“Here’s what we do. We get a lot of people who come here who can’t afford a lot,” Schmitt said. “We will chip in, or we will buy it for them. I am not a rich man. Most people are not, but we do our best. My wife and I and our family, we do pretty well. We do pretty much everything we can to help out other people.”
Schmitt said when he had back surgery, the community rallied just as he had done for it.
“It seems like the entire community chipped and brought dinners to our house. Either you love me or you hate me,” he said.
A-Plus Automotive Repair recently moved into a larger facility at 11969 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet.
Utter said meeting Schmitt was more kismet than coincidental.
“A lot of people will message him that they know of people who can get out because of weather, and he will get food to them,” she said. “I think that is when I first started hearing about Jonathan. I started following him when the bad storm hit at the beginning of 2015.
“One of the things that Jonathan does is he sees the good in most people. He watches long enough, and he knows who is going to do good in this world.”
Visit the shop’s Facebook page at facebook.com/jonathan.schmitt.710 to learn more.