Justin and Nellie Mitchell, along with Nellie’s brother, Dustin Smith, recently partnered together to purchase the former A&M Auto repair shop in McGregor and re-opened it under the name AutoSmith. The partners bring decades of experience in car repair and maintenance to the business.
All three grew up in the McGregor area. The Mitchells still reside in McGregor with their six children, Louie, Jake, Gordy, Sophie, Issy and Walter. Smith resides in Ironton with his wife, Julie, and three sons, Oliver, Wyatt and Owen.
While the Mitchells will be running the McGregor AutoSmith shop, Smith manages the Ironton facility. Justin Mitchell provides mechanical work in McGregor while Nellie does the bookkeeping. A service writer, Donny, was added to the staff this week to answer calls, prepare invoices and quotes and man the front desk. Tim is the service writer and point of contact at the Ironton location.
Justin graduated from McGregor High School then attended technical school for welding. He worked for a car repair center in Brainerd prior to spending the past seven years working at the Ironton AutoSmith shop with Dustin. He had also worked at the former A&M Auto under the previous owners, Mike and Anita Jackson, 14 years ago.
“I was looking for work closer to home because between working, commuting and family, I felt disconnected from the McGregor community in which I live,” said Justin. A mutual friend asked the Jacksons if they were in need of another mechanic and their response was, “Why doesn’t Justin just buy the place?” Justin said the Jacksons were looking forward to eventual retirement so the timing was right. It was then he and Nellie decided to partner with Dustin to purchase the business and open the satellite location.
Wheels in motion
As a senior in high school, Dustin had a vision for his future and had already selected the name for his future business – AutoSmith. Following graduation from vocational school for both auto and diesel mechanics with a 4.0 grade point average, Dustin worked for an auto repair center in Brainerd. After a few other employment ventures, Dustin set the wheels in motion to realize his dream of starting his own automotive service business.
The first year, he operated out of his in-laws’ backyard, braving the winter elements to work on vehicles. The following year, he purchased a Quonset hut and moved his business indoors. As Dustin became established and continued to experience growth, he eventually purchased the current shop in Ironton in 2012. In 2015, he expanded the business with a sizable addition, providing 9,000 total square feet of shop and office space. He now employs 10 people in the Ironton location.
The Ironton AutoSmith shop provides general automotive and medium and heavy diesel repair. They also feature towing and recovery services with a fleet of nine tow trucks and provide onsite service with two service trucks. Free loaner cars are available. The shop also has a new state-of-the- art alignment machine.
AutoSmith is both ASE and AAA certified. Automotive technicians obtain their voluntary certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The highly-regarded ASE certification reflects special skills, attention to quality and professional experience. Both shops are NAPA Autocare Centers.
The McGregor AutoSmith shop provides a broad spectrum of automotive and light diesel repair and service. Justin noted the business is centrally located and provides honest, straightforward customer service. They provide transportation for vehicle drop-off and pick-up.
The partners wish to thank their customers for their past and continued support. They also expressed their gratitude to the McGregor NAPA store, the Jacksons, and to family and friends for their support during the transition. “I was busy from day one,” said Justin, “with seven cars in the shop! We thank God for this opportunity.”
“Our goal at AutoSmith is to provide a repair experience for our customers that is as good as it can be – to provide the best and most convenient service possible,” concluded Dustin Smith. “After all, without the support of our customers, we would just be empty shops.”
AutoSmith in McGregor is located at 95 N Maddy St. and can be contacted during business hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at 218-768-2277. The Ironton AutoSmith is located at 803 Fourth St. and can be contacted at 218-545-5715 or at www.dieselsmith.com. Both locations can also be found and contacted on Facebook.