In the beginning there was Ulyss and Thelma Schmidgall, the founders of Smitty’s Body Shop who moved to Yuma, Arizona in 1951 from Twin Falls Idaho. Upon arrival in Yuma, Ulyss worked for another body shop for some time & decided that he was unhappy with the company. As a result, Ulyss terminated his employment and he and Thelma opened Smitty’s Body Shop at 206 S. Orange Avenue in 1952. Their mission in opening Smitty’s was to offer quality repairs, a family friendly presence, and a personal concierge for their customers regarding the automotive repair process on the vehicles they repaired.
In doing so, it became an endearing aspect of their business to have son Kenneth Schmidgall travel down from Idaho to help where he could, during the off season of farming back home. This enabled Smitty’s to keep that small town family friendly feel and provide compassionate customer care. After years of traveling back and forth between Yuma and Idaho, Kenneth and his wife Carol Schmidgall finally moved their family down to Yuma in 1958 so Kenneth could assume full time employment at Smitty’s.
As fate would have it, in 1970 Kenneth and Carol Schmidgall bought the business from Ulyss and Thelma, which started the second generation of family to own and operate Smitty’s. In fact, Kenny, and Carol’s son (Robert Schmidgall) took a keen interest in the body shop where he started his employment at the age of 13 sweeping floors and performing general maintenance tasks. As he aged, he became more fascinated with the auto body industry and received hands on training from the technicians in the shop.Upon completion of high school, Rob decided to hone in on his autobody technician skills and attended Arizona Western College to obtain a welding degree. Upon completion of college, Rob became a full- time technician at Smitty’s, while his father Kenny wrote estimates and tended to customers, and his
mother Carol ran the office. In 1982, there was a tragic automobile accident that ended Kenny’s life and forced Rob to fill the shoes of his father. In the wake of such tremendous loss, Carol and Rob managed to carry on and Rob became the estimator and customer care specialist. Carol and Rob ran Smitty’s until 1998, when Rob’s wife Debbie Schmidgall joined the duo in running the business.
In 2000, Rob and Debbie bought the business from Carol and became the third generation to own and operate Smitty’s. Soon after, in January of 2005 Rob and Debbie’s Daughter (Jennifer Achen) started working as a receptionist, where she answered phones and tended to customers. Additionally, in August of 2005, Smitty’s debuted their much larger, new, and improved facility at 2685 E. 24th Street. Later that year, Rob, and Debbie’s son in law (Chris Quamen) was employed as an estimator and daughter (Jill Quamen) joined the team as a receptionist to then fill the position of Jennifer who moved back to accounting. In the years following, Rob and Debbie trained and transitioned Chris to become the shop manager, Jill to become the Office Manager, and Jennifer to become the Human Resource Manager. In January 2022, Rob and Debbie sold the business to daughters Jennifer and Jill, who are now the proud fourth generation of owners, as well as proud operators alongside Chris. With the support of their husbands, Chris, and Marce, Smitty’s will no doubt thrive and live on to see the fifth generation of ownership one day.
In conclusion, over the last seventy years there have been many shifts and changes within the business and positions but the one thing that has always stayed the same is the platform of family that Smitty’s still upholds. Moreover, the mission of Smitty’s still stands true to this day to offer honest and quality repairs, a family friendly presence, and a personal concierge for their customers. In addition, and most importantly Smitty’s enjoys lending a helping hand, both physically and financially to many local charities, schools, churches, sport groups etc. Prayerfully, Smitty’s will endure the test of time and live on for another 70 years and beyond.
Family owned and operated since 1952. We take pride in the work that we do and the service that we give.