Every year on Black Friday, consumers across the country get up at the crack of dawn and flock to their favorite stores in the hopes of landing bargain-basement holiday deals. At Matt’s Automotive Service Center in Fargo, North Dakota, however, the day after Thanksgiving has a different purpose.
Two years ago, the shop hosted its inaugural “Matt’s Automotive Day of Service,” during which the business shuts down for the day and fixes customers’ vehicles for free. In 2018 alone, the shop performed $28,000 worth of free repairs for 10 different individuals.
“I love giving back,” shares Matt Lachowitzer, owner and founder of Matt’s Automotive Service. “I have a sister who’s a cancer survivor and I watched how people rallied to support my family, and I think that that’s just been wired in me from that day on. I wanted to be in a place where I could give back and I am, and as soon as I was able to, we started [giving back].”
Matt’s Automotive, which operates three auto repair locations and one collision center, partners with a local radio station to find candidates for the “Day of Service.” In its first year, the shop received 250 nominations and in its second year, nominations grew to 500. Lachowitzer personally goes through all the nominations before picking whom to help.
“I think every person but one was nominated by someone else,” Lachowitzer says, adding that their stories are “earth-shaking.” “Our first year we had a 10-year-old girl nominate her mom. It was just tear-jerking.”
In 2018, two of the vehicles were beyond repair, so the shop gave the customers “new” used cars.
“Sometimes the cars are too far-gone,” Lachowitzer says. “So, we’ve tried to always have a couple of vehicles that we’ve acquired over the year, fixed up and ready for this instance.”
Repairing these vehicles for free not only has made a positive impact on the community, but on the staff as well.
“I’ve had staff say, ‘I know we’re only doing $2,000 in repairs. I want to spend another $500 and I’ll pay for it.’ That’s the kind of stuff we come out of the day with.”
In addition to Matt’s Automotive Day of Service, the repair shop provides free vehicle repairs for those staying at the Ronald McDonald House. “My sister stayed at Ronald McDonald House,” Lachowitzer says. “My sister was a Make-a-Wish recipient. So, these things are near and dear to my heart and why I probably give to some of the things I do is because I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve witnessed what it does for a family.”