As a young girl, I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. Who knew years later I would be a woman in a male dominated industry and co-own a transmission automotive repair shop. But hey, life is a journey and here’s how it happen.
You see, entrepreneurs/small business runs in my family. My dad and grandfather we’re in construction and my mom’s family owned an Italian restaurant. I remember as a little girl, loving the smell of fresh cut lumber when spending time in my dad’s workshop. I have fond memories of folding pizza boxes and putting coins in the jute box to listen to my favorite songs, while visiting my grandfather. Even as a child I knew they were hard working and enjoyed helping others.
I met my future husband Tony, while in high school. We had a lot in common and family was important to both of us. We were young and had our hopes & dreams. We married a few years later, after completing our education and getting jobs. I worked in banking and Tony was an automotive technician. He truly enjoyed what he did and I use tease him saying; “Transmission fluid? It’s in your blood.”
Those early years were something. Looking back, I realize just how young we really were. Between work, the kids, the house and the cars, it seemed we were always busy. I was working part-time while raising our children. I found volunteering in local schools and in my church to be rewarding. I didn’t realize at the time, how much I would value those skills and experiences later on.
I always knew I wanted to own a business. It was years later that I realized, what I really wanted, was to make a difference. Empower people. Especially women. I believe that comes from my desire to be part of something bigger and from the gratitude I have for all of the people who have inspired me.
As our kids were growing, I was ready to get back to work, full time. I enrolled in a cosmetology “hairdressing” course and was planning to open a hair salon. After completing the program and working for a couple of years, Tony approached me. He wanted to open a transmission auto repair shop. At the time I was thinking, This is just great. How are we going to open two businesses?
We discussed both an auto industry need and opportunity: “Taking The Fear Out Of Auto Repair.” With my banking, management and customer service experience & Tony’s technical automotive training and years of hands on experience, we could change an overlooked area in the auto repair industry. This was an opportunity to help vehicle owners and the auto industry. We did some auto repair industry research, took a class on small business and decided to pursue it. We opened Croce’s in 1999.
Our goal: Bring professionalism to the auto repair industry. And here’s how we are doing just that.
My goal is to learn something new every day. Tony and I continue our education/training through formal and informal classes, webinars, networking, business groups and trade associations. I find inspiration within and outside of the auto repair industry. Over the years we’ve been blessed to meet and share “What’s Working” ideas with others. We’ve learned so much. I didn’t open the salon but I have no regrets because I love what I do! I’m empowering people. Life is a journey. Sometimes exciting while other times challenging and I’m enjoying the ride.
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