Jolene Grigg (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)Jolene Grigg (Phil McLachlan, Kelowna Capital News)

Jolene Grigg: Auto repair can be rewarding

Grigg is a manager at Craftsman Collision in Kelowna

In this edition of Women in Business, women were interviewed who are employed in typically male-dominated industries or in a position that was historically filled by a man.

These women share their stories of being underrepresented in their field and leadership roles – in the hope that their perseverance and success become the guiding light for the next generation of women in business, so they continue to break glass ceilings and meet their goals.

Women in Business shows who the movers and the shakers are in Kelowna and that there is always a space to share stories of successful women.

As the first female manager for Craftsman Collision across Canada in 20 years, Jolene Grigg thought she would be faced with certain difficulties.

Grigg had grown up in the vehicle maintenance industry, working for her parents’ repair business for many years, before working for Craftsman.

She chose Craftsman because it was family-owned, despite the owner having 43 locations across the country.

“I thought it was going to be really difficult for me to change because I came from a family-owned business and I was the face of the company. But, they treat me so well here, like family,” she said.

When Grigg first started she was the only female manager, but today she feels she has broke ground as there are now four women in management positions; one more in B.C. and two in Alberta.

“Our head office also has several women working there in different capacities, such as HR,” said Grigg.

Despite this and her 26 years in the automotive industry, Grigg still faces obstacles.

“When I first started I was placed in Vernon and it was tough because I had lived and worked as the face of my parents’ company in Kelowna, and people in Vernon didn’t recognize me. So, there was the odd challenging time and there still can be with customers to build their trust,” she explained. “I had and still have to show customers my knowledge and the expertise.”

In Kelowna, Craftsman has several women working in different positions within the facility from painting, body technicians, parts coordinators and detailers.

“I do find that more women are coming into this more male-dominated industry and I think it is a lot more accepting of women,” said Griggs. “And, for Craftsman Collision there is a lot of movement, especially if you start with detailing, you can move your way up to say a body technician apprenticeship.”

Craftsman Collision works with Okanagan College with programs such as automotive collision repair, refinishing preparation or auto glass.

“Almost 99 per cent of the time, when students finish their course they want an apprenticeship and Craftsman is very big on this. Maybe a quarter of employees are retiring in the next five years, so we are looking for apprenticeships,” said Grigg.

The company has taken on both men and women as apprentices in the past.

“I would definitely encourage young women to get into this industry, things are changing so fast with the innovation in this field. If you get a young woman or man who has a lot of knowledge with computers that can really come into play,” she said. “This business can be really rewarding because you can see what you’ve accomplished and the outcome of your knowledge.”

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Kelowna Capital News