CARSTAR Salutes Their Collision Repair Industry Women on International Women’s Day

Autosphere » Collision » CARSTAR Salutes Their Collision Repair Industry Women on International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, CARSTAR, North America’s premier network of independently owned collision repair facilities, is celebrating the women who deliver CARSTAR’s renowned high-quality collision repairs and excellent customer service.

Working as technicians, painters, detailers, estimators, customer service representatives and store managers, they are on the front lines every day helping customers manage their collision repair experience.

From fulfilling a family legacy by joining the collision repair industry, providing excellent customer service or finding a career, the women of CARSTAR Canada are role models for anyone looking to succeed in the vehicle service business.

Fulfilling a family legacy

Laura Torres is part of the family team leading the CARSTAR TORCAM Group in Brantford, Ont., where family and business go hand-in-hand.

“My husband was one of the owners and it was time for me to join the family business and help in the growth of the group,” she said. “My favourite part is being able to help other people and having the ability to grow the business.”

Ashley Deokinandan joined her family’s collision repair business—CARSTAR Newmarket in Newmarket, Ont.—eight years ago to help out, and never left.

“My father worked in the industry since immigrating to Canada, and naturally, with the undertaking of the Newmarket location, help was needed, and the rest is history,” said Deokinandan. “My favourite part about working at CARSTAR Newmarket is being able to do it alongside my family!”

Working in the family business requires focus and diligence for Deokinandan.

“I approach working in the body shop from a strategic standpoint in terms of cycle time, production and profitability,” said Deokinandan. “My ability to be organized is optimal in this environment, as diligence is key in having success in these key aspects of the collision repair business.”

Jade Zambidis, from CARSTAR Brantford in Brantford, ON, got into the industry because of her mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

“It was hard at first as I was learning the industry, but as time went along, I gained staff members’ respect,” said Zambidis. “I started as a CSR and moved my way up to estimating. I came to realize that I don’t need to know everything about a vehicle, but just be confident in what I’m doing. That really helped me gain respect from customers.”

Stephanie Heyboer, from CARSTAR Brantford West in Brantford, ON, said the auto industry is in her DNA.

“It is kind of in my blood—my father was a mechanic, and my grandfather was a mechanic in the war,” said Heyboer. “It is in my life in other aspects as well, my husband, uncles-in law, and grandfather-in-law are all mechanics. So, to me when the opportunity came, I believed it would just fit. I bring a bubbly personality that makes hard days a little lighter. I try to approach all situations with a positive attitude, allowing for more positivity during challenging times.”

Laura Munarolo, also with the CARSTAR TORCAM Group, followed her family into the industry.

“My parents first started in the field, and then my older brother joined as well,” said Munarolo. “After that, I took on a role of helping my mom in the office with the accounting and administration side of things and now I am the marketing coordinator for the group as well. I have heard from many women that they feel uncomfortable going to body shops on their own because they do not know enough about cars. Having women in the industry can allow them to feel more comfortable and to be able to ask questions about their repair.”

Unique perspective and talents drive success

The women of CARSTAR bring a unique blend of experience, expertise and emotional balance to the job.

“Women are both physically and intellectually fierce,” said Lisa Martin with CARSTAR Grand Falls in Grand Falls, New Brunswick, who has worked in the automotive repair industry for 30 years. “Sometimes, a customer or a co-worker thinks we don’t know what we’re talking about or they don’t like being told what to do by a female. That’s a great teaching moment to show what we can do and how we can serve them. Women can easily apply themselves to the role of an estimator, receptionist, administration, production and even automotive repair. Opening the industry to women creates a whole new career path for younger people we can rely on to continue building the automotive sector. Ultimately, this will be key in ensuring the longevity of this industry. Having both men and women working amongst each other will truly make this industry exceptional.”

Kherissa Avery from CARSTAR Brantford agreed.

“One of the benefits of having women in the industry is that we bring a new look and output to the industry,” Avery noted. “People think that you need to know everything about vehicles but this is not true—that is very easy to learn. Women bring a special skill set to the table—determination, drive and compassion. Women already have what it takes to be successful in the automotive industry.”

“Having patience, good communication skills and a positive attitude are critical to this job, along with being as organized as possible,” said Tammy Cooper of CARSTAR Simcoe in Simcoe, Ont. “Women have such a positive impact on the collision industry because we have the ability to multi-task, deliver great customer service and be detail-oriented.”

Fueling a passion for all things automotive

Janie Calvé, with CARSTAR Ste. Agathe in Val-David, Que., found her work at CARSTAR has reconnected her with her passion for performance and speed.

“I have been in the small engine/boat/ATV/snowmobile repair field since 2007,” said Calvé. “I have always had motorcycles and raced motorcycles when I was younger with the ASM Lapping Club in St. Eustache. I also worked on and raced modified cars and worked at racetracks like Autodrome St. Eustache and Pont-Rouge as an official.”

Calvé has put that passion to work since joining CARSTAR two years ago, along with her automotive knowledge and leadership.

“Some 20 years ago it was difficult for women to get in this industry,” she noted. “When I was called to go out on the lake to repair a boat, replace a gas pump or even do an oil change right at the dock, people stared at me. I was just a girl. Today, is a different story. At CARSTAR Ste. Agathe, three of the employees out of six are women, and there is a necessary balance of men and women in the field.”

Tarah Giles brought her automotive experience to the CARSTAR Brantford, Ont. team and continues to grow in the field.

“I started off detailing at the CARSTAR Brantford location, then got into parts and eventually I was disassembling and reassembling vehicles,” said Tarah Giles. “I worked at another body shop where I did apprentice-type work such as small repairs, restorations and prep work. I was a service advisor for three years which helped me learn the mechanical side of things. I’ve been lucky with the positions I’ve been in as it’s helped me gain the experience I need to succeed in this industry.”

For Kelly Avery, one automotive opportunity has led to another.

“I started on the dealership side of things in the accounting department doing accounts payable and receivables,” said Avery, who works at CARSTAR Brantford West. “A co-worker who was also a body shop manager introduced me to the collision side. I accepted a position in a collision centre where they needed an admin/CSR. I was interviewed and hired on the spot. I worked in that facility for almost 10 years. Now, I work for CARSTAR TORCAM group as one of their Operation Managers..”

Delivering unparalleled customer service

Many of the women on the CARSTAR Canada team said they bring a special empathy and understanding to customers during a difficult time.

“I’m there to help customers start their repair process, and then I get to see how happy they are once the repair is complete, which is so rewarding,” said Cynthia Vilez from CARSTAR Brantford. “I’ve been told how easy we make the process and how we relieve the customers during a stressful situation. Having more women in the industry is beneficial to everyone. I find women bring improved customer service and attention to detail.”

“The customers are my favourite part,” said Pamela Meyers from CARSTAR Simcoe. “I enjoy helping them through the insurance process. The appreciation shown from the customer is very rewarding. I also have formed relationships with adjusters and image desk staff at the insurance companies, and have established good rapport with most, making it easier to work through the insurance process.”

Opportunities to advance

For women looking for a rewarding career, CARSTAR offers numerous opportunities.

“It’s very empowering being in the auto industry, knowing that this was once a profession that we only looked to men to pursue,” noted Deokinandan. “Showing you can step up to the task of becoming more than a receptionist and serve as the manager running a body shop, ultimately commands the respect from your colleagues and employees. When you can prove yourself, the auto industry is nothing but welcoming to women entering this field.”

Liliana Camacho from CARSTAR TORCAM Group turned a job into a nearly 20-year career.

“By chance, I came to Canada in 2004 and I was looking for opportunities to work in my field, but unfortunately with small kids and no support that posed its challenges for me and my husband,” said Camacho. “I realized I needed a new career path that offered me stability and flexibility. I started working as a CSR, three months later I was promoted to office manager. Then two years later I got into accounting, went back to school and I have been doing accounting within the field since then.”

“I was painting the CARSTAR location at Copernicus Blvd. with my dad, and I asked Javier Torres if they were hiring. Fortunately, they were,” said Massiel Rosario from CARSTAR Brantford West. “When I finished painting the shop, they interviewed me and gave me the job in the parts department. It feels special because it is not a job usually held by women but I am here and I love it. We are a little more keen with the organization and keeping the shop clean, and that benefits the whole organization.”

Tanis Devito, from CARSTAR Brantford West, loves the team environment and her position on it.

“I actually applied for a different position with CARSTAR and it was the owner who offered me the role I currently hold as it was a better fit for me due to my work history, skills and personality,” she said. “I really enjoy the people I work with. I am not treated any different being a female and it just a great team environment.”

While these are just a handful of the hundreds of women leading and managing CARSTAR Canada, their hard work, commitment to quality, dedication to customer service and passion for performance make them the heroes on the frontlines.


Popular Posts