Owner, Kit Johnson was a gear head from early on and landed his first real technician job in 1981, right after he bought his first car, which is a 1970 Buick Grand Sport 455 (he still has it today!). The GS soon needed a tune-up so Kit visited a local repair shop where they fixed it up well enough for him to break the axle differential out of it. He went back the next day and got a job sweeping floors and learning how to fix cars for a living.
Kit attended Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Technology and a minor in Business Administration. During school, Kit spent several years working in a Jeep/AMC dealership in Havre and afterwards, at the Precision Tune chain in Austin, Texas, and as a technician in a fleet truck repair outfit in Helena.
One of the jobs he held during this period was as a salesman for Allen test equipment, they needed a location that was central to his territory so he moved his family to the Helena area in 1988 and has been here ever since.
In 1994 Kit and Viola took out several loans and built J4 Automotive at its current location in East Helena. The business has grown every year and is now a landmark for integrity, customer satisfaction and a strong community supporter.
Kit continues to improve his skills by attending as many on-site classes as possible building his study-at-home library, reading industry magazines to stay abreast of current events, staying current with his ASE Master Mechanic Certification and being a mentor to his excellent crew.
Kit says he owes his success to the past, present and continued development of these skills through involvement with NIAT, CARS, NAPA EXPO (both ’98 and ’05) ASA, ASE Blue Seal of Excellence, AAA Approved Auto Repair and other quality organizations.
Kit recently won the coveted National NAPA/ASE Technician of the Year award – an award that can be won only once in a technicians life time. It’s considered the highest honor in the automotive repair industry.
Kit’s personal achievements include a 25+ year marriage to his wife Viola which has produced two awesome girls, Nikita and Kacy. Kit is a Marine Corps, National Guard and Army Veteran and was deployed in Desert Storm in 1990 for 6 months where he was awarded the Army Commendation medal. Kit is active in the local Marine Corps League and in veterans affairs, Toys for Tots and along with his family, have made and put up hundreds of yellow ribbons that adorn telephone poles in East Helena, commemorating East Helena veterans that are over seas.
Kit was Marine of the Year for the local Marine Corps Detachment in 2004 and 2005.
Kit was named Fireman of the Year for the local volunteer fire department in 2005 and EMT of the Year for the same department in 2004.
Kit received the Legion of Honor award from the Chapel of the Four Chaplains from the Marine Corps League in 2006 for his community service and service to veterans.
Kit currently is in his second term on the East Helena City Council and is just finishing his second term as a Helena Area Chamber of Commerce Board Member. Kit was a two term member of the local school board, has served as Assistant Fire Chief and an EMT with the East Helena Fire Department, has served on several Community planning boards and advisory committees, including the local high school Automotive Advisory Council. Kit has been a field agent for Impartial Services Group, a company that facilitates “lemon” vehicle by-backs between the manufacturer and the consumer. Kit’s hobbies include cars, hunting and outdoor sports, home brewing, cooking, gardening and music (he plays the drums and was in a swing big band with Viola for ten years).
More about Vi ⇒
Viola was raised in a household of mechanics. Her father owned and operated his own repair business in Havre, Montana where she and her brother worked after school and during summers.
Viola met Kit while acting in a play at Northern Montana College where she attended classes and she was able to straighten him out enough to finally concede to be called Mrs. Johnson in 1987.
Viola is the guiding force behind J4 Automotive’s huge success in the Helena valley due to her astute marketing acumen and administrative aptitude. Kit and Vi work hand in hand and make up J4 Automotive’s management team.
Viola is the mother of two children, Nikita and Kacy, and has been an advocate of children for many years. She has been a Brownie troop leader, a PTA member and president, a Sunday school teacher and was the founding co-chair for the East Helena Quality Education Foundation.
Viola received the Red Cross Volunteer of the Year award for 2004 and in 2005 was highlighted in the Independent Record’s prestigious series entitled “20 under 40” where community activists are recognized. Vi was awarded the Legion of Honor award from the Chapel of Four Chaplains for her community service to veterans.
Viola is also very active in veteran’s affairs and is the Senior Vice President for the Marine Corps League Auxiliary. Viola was the brain child of the yellow ribbons that adorn East Helena’s Main street and she has spent many a night lettering the veteran’s names onto them.
Viola is a board member on the Youth Connections Coalition, a foundation dedicated to enhancing social, emotional and
mental health supports for Helena’s youth.
Viola’s hobbies include her family, crafts, cars, music, cooking, canning fresh vegetables from her garden and outdoor sports.
More about Zack ⇒
Zack Larson is an ASE Certified Mechanic. He was born in Great Falls, Montana and raised here in Helena. He graduated from Capital High School and is a graduate of the Automotive Program at Helena School of Technology in May 2019.
Zack enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2008, has been deployed several times overseas, and still currently serves our country.
He became a mechanic because of “Gear Heads” in his family and likes the challenge of helping people get back on the road.
Zack’s hobbies include cars, off roading, hunting, rodeo’s, and helping his Father-in-Law on the ranch.
Christopher Robin Turbo David Pratt
More about Chris ⇒
Christopher Robin Turbo David Pratt (aka Chris) was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and raised right here in East Helena. Chris graduated from Helena High School and is also a graduate of The Automotive Management Institute.
Chris serves as an Assistant Manager and lead Service Advisor. Chris enjoys solving people’s problems, the puzzle of the vehicle, and the constant change of the industry.
His hobbies include skiing, brewing (and drinking) beer, cooking, and sports. Go Seattle!
More about David ⇒
David Wiley is an ASE Certified Mechanic. He was born in Stockton, California and raised in Helena. He graduated from Helena High School and he attended Helena School of Technology in the Automotive Program. He has always been interested in cars and wanted to know how they work.
David enjoys the satisfaction of repairing a vehicle and helping people.
His hobbies include fishing, hunting, and anything to do with cars!
More about Gena ⇒
Gena Berry was born and raised in Missoula, Montana. She graduated from Big Sky High School and attended the University of Montana.
Gena serves as a compassionate and caring Service Advisor. Starting from a young age she has always been helping her dad and grandpa work on their cars. She loves the interaction with customers and helping them make informed decisions on their vehicle.
Gena’s hobbies include being an Olympic rated skier, 15 years in Martial Arts, hunting, and fishing.
More about Jeff ⇒
Jeff Breland is an ASE Certified Master Mechanic. Jeff was born and raised in East Helena. He graduated from Helena High School and has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Diesel Technology from MSU Northern Montana College.
Jeff has always been mechanically inclined and enjoys helping people. Jeff serves as our lead technician and helps to train new technicians as they arrive.
Jeff served our country with the Navy and was deployed to Desert Storm. His hobbies include pottery and riding four wheelers.
More about Nikita ⇒
Nikita Pratt was born in East Helena and raised in J4 Automotive! She serves as the head of our clerical and accounting office. Nikita has been around, and working on cars since the day she was born. She’s been a part of J4 Automotive since it was first conceived and wants to carry on the family tradition of helping others and supporting our community.
Nikita’s hobbies include caring for her daughter, snowboarding, fishing, camping, and everything outdoors.