In 1940, a Ford factory-trained mechanic from Kansas named Merle "Smitty" Smith moved to San Diego with his wife Edith. Before WWII broke out, he worked as the Foreman of Electrical Maintenance for the aircraft manufacturing company known as Convair. As the men on his shift were drafted to the war they were replaced by very capable women. Eventually his entire staff was female.
During the war people did not make significant investments because they were never sure if their number would be called. Being a proud American, he checked his draft status with the Army recruiter’s office. He was quietly told that he would not be drafted because Convair needed a high level of continuity in his position to assist in the war effort. This information gave Smitty a competitive advantage. In 1945 he had an opportunity to purchase a Rio Grande Gas and Oil station. Through the end of the war he worked Monday through Friday at Convair. On weekends he was the mechanic on Oregon and Adams.
It wasn’t long before he gained a reputation as an honest mechanic who delivered the best possible work at reasonable prices. Over the years he sold gas as Richfield and then ARCO but what kept them coming back was Smitty’s Service.
As a young man Mike Magers worked summer jobs at Smitty’s doing odd jobs and simple mechanical services. His "apprenticeship" with Smitty was the foundation for the next chapter of Smitty’s Service.
It wasn’t until 1987 that Mike officially started his career at Smitty’s Service. Mike earned his degree at night while attending Smitty's "school of hard knocks" by day. The two worked side by side, seven and later six days a week for years. As it turned out, Mike shared Smitty’s passion for automotive excellence and customer satisfaction.
In 1989 Mike bought a house down the street and raised his kids in Normal Heights. This commitment prompted him to get involved locally– he served as President of Adams Elementary PTA, Normal Heights Planning Committee, Vice President of the Safe Neighborhoods and President of the Adams Avenue Business Association for many, many years.
Unfortunately Smitty passed away in 1996 but Grandpa's spirit lives through Mike as he continues his legacy.
Smitty’s is San Diego’s oldest family-run automotive repair facility. Mikes wife Deborah does the banking, and his oldest son Enrique is the Office Manager.
Mike has been working in one capacity or another here at Smitty's since he was twelve. In 1987 when Smitty experienced health issues, Mike answered the call and began a career at Smitty’s. Mike is an ASE certified Master Tech with a degree in business from San Diego State and a degree in Transportation Technology from Cuyamaca College. He is certified with the CTI technical institute for Hybrid repair. He is an Automotive Expert Witness for the Federal Court system. He is married with three fantastic kids. He enjoys travel, surfing, diving and desert riding with his family.
Sam has been here at Smitty’s for nearly 5 years and has over ten years’ experience in the automotive industry. He is also fluent in Spanish and has a "hands on" approach. His work ethic has rewarded him with a proven track record of success. As a general manager of Elite Auto Group, he learned the essentials of customer satisfaction. His early background was in the parts industry which serves to improve the quality and value of parts we provide. Sam is married with two wonderful kids and enjoys weekends spent with his Family and friends. He's all about basketball; in fact he was the MVP for his league. He also enjoys building high performance cars and racing them at the Barona drag strip. Like any red-blooded San Diegan, Sam is still an avid Charger fan.
Bryan is a graduate of the prestigious Universal Training Institute (UTI) Technician Training school for the Transportation Industry. He has ASE certifications in A6 (Electrical) Bryan turned a wrench for Firestone Auto Care before landing a job as Senior Technician at Tire Depot right here in Normal Heights. His understanding of automobile repair and maintenance coupled with a genuine concern for people make him an obvious choice for team Smitty. Bryan speaks Spanish fluently. Bryan is married, has two girls and a boy. On any weekend you might find him watching Formula One races or puttering around the house.
is Mike’s oldest son (Dare we say 4th generation Smitty?). Enrique received his diploma in Kinesiology at San Diego State University. This over-achiever wears many hats: besides attending to administrative and bookkeeping duties at Smitty’s Service he is a Tax Preparer at Lindgren Financial Services and serves as a youth leader at Kensington Community Church. He’s still an avid Charger fan, enjoys off-roading, hikes with his girlfriend, cooking, and restoring his great-grandfather’s historical home.
Ben is our newest member of the team. This Normal Heights Native has worked at Smitty’s off-and-on throughout most of his adult life. His Grandfather was the owner of a local retirement community known as "The Flames". Do you recall a perpetual Tiki torch burning brightly on 35th street? That’s Bill, he and Smitty were quite close. Ben was a social worker for years but decided on a career change that included our humble shop. Introducing and executing several crucial programs to assist the chronically homeless population in San Diego, his concern for his fellow man makes him a perfect choice for the Smitty’s team. He’s currently attending Cuyamaca College for Automotive Repair at nights and working here at Smitty’s by day. He’s married, with three beautiful children for whom are his world.
Rick has been Mike’s "go to" guy since 1995. His Christian background has been a moral compass when decision making finds a gray area. He has done it all- Manager, Service Advisor, Technician, Fabricator and Facilities manager. Rick has a degree in Aviation flight operation and Aviation technology from Miramar College. This ASE Master Tech is an advanced engine performance specialist. He is certified with the CTI technical institute for Hybrid repair. Rick enjoys bible studies, flying and sailing.
Taha is the newest addition to the Smitty technician team, he has worked professionally as an automotive technician for over five years. He’s quickly becoming known here at the shop as our "European Specialist". He is a graduate of Universal Technical Institute in Rancho Cucamonga with a 3.8 GPA. He has ASE certifications in A6 (Electrical), A8 (Advanced Electrical) and L1 (Engine Performance). You might find Taha in his off hours playing billiards or kayaking with his daughter.
Jose began his career with Smitty's in 1996 - If he were a baseball player he would win the prize for most consecutive starts. You can always expect a smile from Jose and he has the most contagious laugh in the building (dare I say the industry?) He consistently produces quality work and has one of the lowest "comeback" rates in the industry. Jose enjoys Tae Kwon Do. He is married and is the "soccer dad" for 3 active kids.
Giuseppe came on the scene in 2007. First and foremost Giuseppe is 100% Italian: He eats breathes and speaks fluent Italian. His Spanish is pretty good as well! He loves being part of the Smitty team. Giuseppe brings almost 25 years of automotive experience to our family of seasoned veterans. He is fast and accurate. Giuseppe has a tool for every job and is an inspiration to work with. Giuseppe married and is a father of three grown boys. He likes Off-Roading and Surfing or just about anything his boys are involved in.
Beto has been a natural leader here at Smitty’s since he came on the scene in 2007. This ASE Master Tech / Advanced Engine Performance Specialist owned his own shop for five years. He is certified with the CTI technical institute for Hybrid repair. Beto’s years of experience and excellent work ethic have been valuable asset to the Senior Tech team at Smitty’s. He is married, with three girls and spends his "off hours" working on his new home.