In 1977 Chuck Schroth, a retired missionary, founded MATS (Missionary Auto and Truck Service). He started this 501C3 (not for profit) with a specific vision in mind; assist missionaries returning from overseas with this thing called, “buying a car.” Most companies are created when someone sees a need that’s not sufficiently being met and decides to do something to fix- usually providing something different or new. Chuck was no different. He saw a real need for people like him, people who were being taken advantage of when going out in the market to buy a vehicle. He found the best way he could help was to actually go out and buy the cars himself, what you might call car brokering.
From there, Chuck started making strategic connections with dealers to make this service possible. By the mid 1980’s, he’d found an automotive dealer connection strong enough to rely on, exclusively partnering with Mike Nottingham at a Ford dealership in Richmond, Indiana. And the rest was history… kinda. Things didn’t exactly stay the same from here. Keep reading to see how and why.
When Chuck started MATS, he saw a problem and provided a solution; this is our DNA. The car industry is set-up to cheat, take advantage of, and mislead. To Chuck, these missionaries who use and give most of what they have to spread the gospel, it didn’t seem fair. So, MATS became an organization that people in ministry could trust. It became a group of experts that knew cars, bought good cars through a wholesale centered network, reconditioned them to great, and delivered them to missionaries at discounted rates. To sum in up, MATS was founded by Christians for the kingdom minded.
The unshakeable foundation MATS was built upon will never change and it remains the axis that everything hinges from, as we go. Even after Chuck retired, the mission remained. In 1995, Mike Nottingham took the baton and ran with it towards a more international approach; expanding the model to serve missionaries who were in the field and needed cars overseas. In 2006, Mike’s son Josh Nottingham was then passed the baton and pressed on with passion. As the organization began to grow, the need we saw for missionaries and people in ministry emerged into a real need for every single person needing to buy a car in a broken industry built to be served, not to serve. Better described as a shift than a change, the tunnel vision to serve a christian community expanded into a wider perspective; a mission to change the way people buy cars.
MATS was planted in the ground by Christians for the kingdom minded. The only difference now is much less a change of direction and more a wider reach; to grow from those same roots. Were first a MATS just for missionaries, then a MATS for the ministry minded, to now an organization for people- continuing to come along side our friends in ministry that we were founded to serve. Our friends in ministry aren’t the only ones being affected under the umbrella of a broken industry. Everyone who buys a car needs an expert to guide them and we’ve seen car purchasing folks go at it blind, over and over, in 40+ years of being in this car world. That’s why research shows that 69% of people who buy a car regret buying the one they bought somewhere down the line (AutoTrader Survey).
We ask often, would you consider buying a house without a realtor? Most people answer with a pretty confident no, yet we buy cars without expert help all the time. That’s really why we strive to be the guide with the light, the insight, and the heart needed to help good people navigating a dark and broken industry. A vehicle costs much less than a house but a LOT more than some online Amazon item informed by stars and reviews. This is a lot, we get it. And trust us, this only scratches the surface. All this to say, we’ll keep on shooting a hand up in the air waving our friends, their friends, and friends of their friends over to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of during a hard and complex purchase. We’ll continue pulling up chairs to our table to listen and guide; helping the ones in search of a reliable vehicle steward their resources well.
Our roots are planted deep in a mission to help people; it’s our DNA. If you’d like to know more about what it is we do, we would LOVE to have a conversation. Let’s stay in touch!
Topics: Why Mats?
We write helpful things about how to make it easy to buy the right car. Also, occasionally we write something witty.