DAVIS, Calif.When Teresa Wanderstadt was hired 20 years ago to be a cashier at the SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service outlet in Davis, it was just a stopover job for the then-28-year old.
But she soon discovered that she got along well with her boss, Ray Schollwhom she described as a great personand enjoyed interacting with the shop's customers.
Fast forward four years. Mr. Scholl offered Ms. Wanderstadt the position of store managereven though he was still somewhat hesitant to make the move, concerned about how the employees and customers would react to a female manager, she recalled.
The concern was for naught, it turned out, Mr. Scholl said when contacted by Tire Business.
She had a good head on her shoulders. She treated peoplecustomers and employeesfairly, and she learned the business, including the technical side, quickly, he said.
She showed she could do it. Customers feel comfortable, especially the female customers. She's retained some of my original customers.
Mr. Scholl said he often cautioned new hires not to challenge Ms. Wanderstadt about their work in the shop bays, 'cause she knew what she was talking about.
The move paid off for both seven years laterwhen Mr. Scholl started thinking about retiring, Ms. Wanderstadt was at the top of the list of those he'd consider selling the business to, she said.
That led in 2006 to Ms. Wanderstadt, with the support of her husband Randy, stepping up to become one of only a handful of female franchise owners in the SpeeDee system and, at age 39, one of the youngest.
Mr. Scholl is still the Wanderstadts' landlord, although the couple eventually will own the property as well, Ms. Wanderstadt said.
Since taking over the SpeeDee franchise in 2006, she added Midas branding to the store in 2012 after TBC Corp. acquired Midas Inc. and started offering a Midas-SpeeDee co-branding opportunity.
The Wanderstadts have a dozen employees at the shop in Davis, which is open seven days a week. When it gets busy, she's just as comfortable in the bays changing oil as handling counter duties.
It's one of 33 Midas-SpeeDee co-branded locations in California and one of four in the greater Sacramento metro area. The business was recognized as the No. 1 oil change shop in Yolo County recently.
Ms. Wanderstadt said she learned from Mr. Scholl that to be successful, Be honest. Run a family-type business.
She recognizes that female customers tend to feel more comfortable dealing with her than a male counterperson, a trait Mr. Scholl said he saw in her as well.
While she doesn't consider herself a gear head, growing up she did pitch in to help her dad work on cars in the driveway. And the Wanderstadts' 13-year-old son is taking up the cause, running a micro-sprint car locally.
As yet, Ms. Wanderstadt hasn't leveraged her standing in the communty by doing women's clinics or similar activities, but said she's intrigued by the idea and plans to look into it further.
Her advice to other women considering automotive repair as a career: Do your homework. Don't let others intimidate you. Know what you're doing.
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