Al Karnitz is a quiet, unassuming man who is more comfortable talking about his company - and Corley Elementary School - than himself. His company, Ace Truck Body & Trailer Repair, Inc. in Norcross, began with four employees and has grown to 46 - including two of his four sons and even his grandson. And for 30 years they have been repairing and rebuilding truck and trailer bodies for some of the biggest names in industry - including Pepsi, Budweiser, Ryder, Enterprise and Frito Lay.
But Karnitz hasn’t just built his business; he’s helped build his community – giving back whenever he could.
Over that past few years, Karnitz has been particularly passionate about helping Corley Elementary School on Pleasant Hill Road in Lawrenceville. When he became aware of certain needs at the school, Karnitz talked fellow Rotarians from the South Gwinnett Rotary Club into helping with everything from playground equipment at Corley Elementary to reading to the students.
“I find when I go in there to read to the kids I have a lot of fun with them” says Karntiz. “I get them to participate in the reading of a book.”
And whenever the school holds a “Career Day” event, Karnitz tries to show the students a little bit of what his business is about in a fun way that grabs their attention.
“I usually bring a (semi)tractor and let the kids climb up in there and see what a tractor’s like with the sleeper.”
The kids and their school have become very important to Karnitz and he has become very important to them.
A few years ago, Karnitz and the members of the South Gwinnett Rotary Club helped develop a program to honor one student each month with a special lunch for the student and his or her family - and even present them with a plaque, displayed at the school, that indicates that particular student’s area of academic excellence.
Corley Elementary has been so grateful that the teachers and faculty recently honored Karnitz by naming the school lobby the “Allen Karnitz Lobby” in recognition of his support for the school. But Karnitz is quick to point out that - whether working on the playground equipment, reading to the kids on a regular basis or even creating the monthly student honor program - it’s all been a team effort.
“It hasn’t been just me,” Karnitz says modestly. “All of the Rotarians get involved - I just keep pushing it.”
Karnitz, a past South Gwinnett Rotary Club president says he’ll be “pushing” for a new classroom this coming year – an outdoor classroom.
“We’ve got architects in the Rotary,” Karnitz says as he lays out his plan, “and I want to build an open classroom, outside, with a roof over it to keep the weather off of the kids, and maybe their teachers can teach classes on nature and that sort of thing.”
In the meantime, Karnitz and his company will be celebrating.
August 10, 2011 marks the 30th year in business for Ace Truck Body & Trailer Repair, Inc. and Karnitz and his employees are inviting everyone to stop by and join in the celebration at their 33,000 square-foot repair facility located at 4930 Buford Highway in Norcross.