Turning Problems into Blessings 

May 23, 2024
After recovering from addiction, Tim Ellison became a second-time shop owner with a mission to help others struggling.

Tim Ellison was 48 years old when he opened his second auto repair shop. After going through a methamphetamine addiction and divorce, Ellison got clean, moved to Ohio, and with only $2,500 and a prayer would build something that grew into more than just a business: it became a mission to help others. 

 

Making A Second Chance 

Mr. Godwrench isn’t Ellison’s first shop. Back in his home state of South Carolina, he had a shop that he ran for several years before his struggle with addiction began.  

Though his parents ran a restaurant business, Ellison found himself interested in cars from an early age. After gaining his first job with a local shop at around age 17, he began to build a career, and by the 1980s, he knew he wanted to open a shop of his own. 

The middle 2000s were a challenging time for Ellison. He developed an addiction that worsened causing his life to suffer. He lost nearly everything he had, including his shop. Following a divorce, he found solace in a fellow addict, Marthan–who would later become a pillar of support in his recovery. 

Ellison and Marthan’s relationship was intimate but complicated. 

“It was kind of an off-again, on-again thing,” Ellison explains. “We would be together one week, and next week we wouldn’t.” 

Years later, Marthan would begin her addiction recovery, with Ellison doing the same around nine months later. After the two parted ways, Ellison moved to Ohio and began his healing journey but soon realized something was missing. 

Ellison reached out to Marthan in an e-mail and reconnected. The two made plans for her to come up from South Carolina to visit him. 

“We met up and she kind of let me know, she said, ‘If you want me, you better get me now, or I'm done.’ That was kind of the thing. I had to reel her in,” remembers Ellison. 

After that, there was no doubt in Ellison’s mind that he wanted to marry her. He sent her an engagement ring via UPS mail. 

“That's how redneck crazy that is,” Ellison adds, laughing. 

Now happily married for nearly 15 years, the two use their shared past experiences to help others in need today. 

 

A Repair Shop with a Mission 

Before Ellison had moved to Ohio, he already had the name Mr. Godwrench in mind, inspired by his spiritual journey–but it was soon after opening that he would fully see his vision for the shop. 

While working on the vehicle of a young woman unable to afford a brake replacement, one of Ellison’s techs made an interesting suggestion: why not do it anyway? 

After buying the parts themselves, performing the job, and presenting the young woman with a bill paid in full, her reaction made Ellison realize where his passion lie. 

“We (had) seen the response on her face–and it really was like a shot in the arm. It was like a drug to me,” Ellison says. “It just gave me a great idea. I said, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do.’” 

Ellison built Mr. Godwrench from the ground up with hardly any funds, but it wasn’t profit he had his eyes set on–it was a mission to help others. Having been through phases in his life where he felt like he had nothing, opening a charity arm of his shop allowed Ellison to help others who were also struggling.  

While helping those in need is his passion, half of his work is still done commercially to help fund the project. The shop’s slogan, “Turning your automotive problems into blessings,” reminds customers that they’re contributing to something others will receive help from. 

“They’ll say, ‘How is giving you this money with a blown-up engine, how's that gonna be a blessing?’ Well, some of that money is gonna go back to help someone that can't help themselves. And when you tell that person that (and) you explain it to them, they say ‘Eh, maybe it's not so bad after all,’” tells Ellison. 

The work Mr. Godwrench has contributed to those in need is extensive. For several years, Ellison and his crew would travel from South Carolina to Kentucky to host oil changes for single parents, making an event out of the occasion with bouncy houses, food, and car giveaways. The turnout would always be tremendous with an average of 150 cars coming through. 

“Honestly, when Mr. Godwrench went to Jackson, Kentucky, it was almost like the circus (was) coming,” Ellison recalls. 

Following the success of the events, Ellison and his wife investigated other ways they could use their funds to maximize a positive impact.  

His business is partnered with a local school district that helps single parents in need with automotive services. For bigger repairs, Mr. Godwrench partners with local churches to raise funds needed to supply these single parents with adequate transportation. 

 

Turning Wrenches, Spreading Joy 

The future of Mr. Godwrench rests in good hands. One of Ellison’s sons is in line to inherit the business after Ellison, alongside a technician at the shop who has left a deep impression on Ellison. 

Ellison found the tech over a decade ago when he was still a teenager. He lost his parents at an early age, and Ellison first learned of him through his grandmother while she was cutting his hair. It led to Ellison bringing him onto the team where his dedication surprised Ellison. 

“He came in and just started working part-time, and we actually fell in love with him. He is a great technician. He’s just a workhorse,” says Ellison. 

After all of the hardships that Ellison has been through, his only desire is to use whatever power he has to help others heal and thrive. Mr. Godwrench has become so much more than an auto repair shop: it’s become a lifesaver for so many in need. 

Ellison’s shop has experienced substantial growth since launching, as it’s become a staple of support across several communities. But for Ellison, devoting so much of his focus to helping others isn’t about anything he may gain from it except the very thing that guided him to where he is now: spiritual fulfillment. 

“Believe it or not, yourself is last. The acronym J.O.Y. is ‘Jesus, others, and you,’ Your desires, and what you want to do, is kind of put on the back burner, and you're putting your effort toward other people,” says Ellison. “And you see, that's what God honors.” 

Sponsored Recommendations

Find the right shop management system to boost your efficiency

Find the right shop management system to aid in efficient scheduling, communication and payment processing

Craft a strategic marketing plan

Develop strategies and communicate them to your staff to keep you on track

Establish and track your KPIs: Technician Productivity

WHAT IT IS: Technician productivity refers to the time a technician is available to work measured against the actual time spent working on positive cash flow repair orders. Tracking...

Empower your technicians with the right tools for efficient repairs

Foster a highly motivated and efficient team to get vehicles out the door faster