Women On CARSTAR’s Corporate Team Guiding The Ship To Serve Franchise Owners Throughout North America
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, CARSTAR, North America’s premier network of independently owned collision repair facilities, salutes the women who work on the front lines in its more than 700 locations. These women work as estimators, managers, technicians and operations leaders, all focused on getting customers back on the road in an expertly repaired vehicle.
Rosemary Queen, CARSTAR area manager of operations for the Northeast, has been in this “man’s world” her whole life, she says, and still finds being a female in the collision repair industry an exciting challenge.
“Back in the day, it was ‘Can I speak to your boss?’ even though I was the general manager of the facility. However throughout the years there has been so much continuous improvement that now we have female technicians,” said Queen. “My favorite part of being in the CARSTAR family is when I get to coach, guide, mentor and make a difference for someone getting started. Helping them with their career is my big reward.”
Queen offers advice to women pursuing a career in collision repair, “If you have the passion in your heart, share it and don’t ever give up. Challenge yourself to work hard to meet whatever goal you set. Then you will celebrate together as a family when success follows. Communication is the key to your success so ask questions and spend the one on one time with the experts that have been in the business to pick up some of their best practices.”
Tracy Tuckett, CARSTAR area manager of operations, in Hamilton, ON, said focusing on her career and her customers has been the key to her success.
“The biggest challenge I used to face was being second-guessed based on my gender,” she noted. “I say ‘used to face’ because I decided to stop concerning myself with how others might perceive me, or my level of knowledge, based on my gender. That would be their issue, not mine. I was able to overcome this early in my career by focusing on what mattered –me! I accomplished this by remaining focused and engaged in my trade, by constantly learning and by building relationships.”
For women looking to succeed in the collision repair industry, Tuckett recommended having a mentor, seeking out people in the field who excel and learn from them, and one day paying that forward by being a mentor for someone else.
Amy Gissendanner, CARSTAR area manager of operations for the Central region, said the collision repair industry has become much more open minded and focuses on abilities, not gender.
“There have been struggles over the years however the positives outweigh the negatives,” she noted. “The majority of people in the auto body industry are open minded and willing to see the abilities of a person, not just whether they are male or female. I feel the industry is looking for capable individuals that can achieve the demands being placed on us as a whole and the number of females working in all aspects of the body shop is increasing and even being sought out.
“CARSTAR is a forward-thinking company that embraces diversity and encourages teamwork as well as personal growth,” she added. “For women trying to succeed in this industry, I say ‘Keep at it!’. The skills and perspectives that we bring benefit our industry, we should not be afraid to shine!”
Jamie Hendrickson, CARSTAR area manager of operations for the Midwest region, noted her favorite part of being in the CARSTAR family is the true family culture.
“I really appreciate how all the franchise owners want to see their peers succeed, and they look for our assistance in making that happen,” said Hendrickson. “It is great when you can see movement in a shop whether it be by that of their KPIs, same center sales and insurance program additions, just to name a few.”
Hendrickson advised other women joining the collision repair industry to work hard to get more involved with the auto community and charitable partners to assist customers.
“I currently serve on the advisory board for our local tech school in Missouri and I also am serving as a chair for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation walk in Kansas City,” she said. “I am working to get to know the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation chapter in my St. Louis market, as I would like to do more to serve there as well.”
Dana Adams, CARSTAR area manager of operations for the Northwest, who started as an auto physical damage appraiser 25 years ago, said credibility is key to success in this industry.
“You have to build your credibility with the people you are working with to ensure a good relationship — respect does not happen overnight,” she said. “It is important to admit when you don’t know something, ask questions and don’t fake knowledge! I took a risk moving into the auto physical damage/collision repair industry because I was not a ‘car guy’ and have built my career around this industry. I really enjoy working with individual stores to improve their performance and grow their business.”
Hannah Ross, vice president of marketing for Driven Brands Collision and Glass, said CARSTAR offers unique opportunities for women to grow in a variety of roles.
“CARSTAR provides a great opportunity to learn, grow and shine,” noted Ross. “What makes a company well-rounded is diversity of thought and that is something I am proud to contribute to this industry. Being part of the CARSTAR family is an honor. My favorite part is sharing a vision with an entire network that is working together towards a common goal of growth with a shared mission and values. As a brand, we are united in our quest for excellence with our customers, communities, charitable fundraising efforts and each other. We are in a season of growth and 700+ stores and corporate team members driving forward together is a powerful amount of momentum and being a part of that is thrilling.”
Ross recommended that women striving to achieve in any industry stay humble and hungry, always be on a mission to drive your passion and industry forward, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn about all parts of the business – even if it’s outside of your comfort zone.