“In a very male-dominated industry, it has been interesting to offer a female perspective in particular when it comes employees,” noted Cathy Shirtliff, who joined CARSTAR Peterborough and CARSTAR Markham in Ontario to provide HR and marketing support for her husband’s growing business. “Training, feedback and retention need to be a primary focus of long-term success. It is getting more and more difficult to find the right people, so when we get them, we need to focus on their development and engagement. I think women offer the soft skills that can be more challenging for men. I’d also love to see more women in the technical role, especially painters and preppers, as they tend to be very detail-oriented and would thrive in this industry.”
A Sisterhood for Success
The women of CARSTAR have created their own network group to share insight and guidance and even have breakout sessions during the annual CARSTAR conferences.
“Being in this industry has been great, as it has definitely pulled me outside of my comfort zone at moments---visiting insurance partners, doing events to raise money for cystic fibrosis and other wonderful charities,” said Ashley Van den Hoven of CARSTAR Elmira in Ontario. “I think having more women involved in the industry helps end a stigma that can go along with an industry such as this. Raising three daughters and one son, we want them to know they can work in any industry as well as be an entrepreneur and succeed no matter what the odds are. Hard work, integrity and respect go a long way!”
“I started as a customer service representative for a dealership in Saskatoon and came to CARSTAR in 2004,” said Esther Cantafio, owner of CARSTAR St. Albert, CARSTAR Edmonton East and CARSTAR Edmonton North in Alberta, Canada. “I feel respected by my peers, and my opinion has merit and is often requested. My daughter Melissa is also now an important part of our business. Her perspective is sharp and, of course, much different from mine as my approach to staff, customers, vendors and insurance partners has grown with her expertise in retail.