Winona Wilkins - aftermarketNews

2022 Honoree

Winona Wilkins

Retail Marketing Manager
ABC Auto

How did you begin your career in the aftermarket?

As many others can probably relate to I kind of stumbled into it. I worked at Wal-Mart (not sure if I can use names here) for over 25 years. My husband worked at ABC Auto Parts and through him I was contracted out to help the retail stores update their look. I did that for a couple of years then there was an opening. I interviewed for it and have been here now for over 10 years.

What is your best advice to other women who want to excel in the automotive aftermarket? What is one thing the industry could do better or do differently to support women in the aftermarket?

My advice to other women would be that although learning the ins and outs of an automobile may look hard it isn’t. With anything in life, you just have to break it down into small pieces. Tackle the little things and then move on to the bigger pieces. It is just like working a puzzle. It looks a mess to start but in the end with all the pieces in place it works.

The industry has made huge strides in working with women. I know a few ladies that have worked at ABC for 25-30 years and I can only imagine what they faced. Although it is a man-based industry from my aspect I think women are getting treated better. You still have that occasional person that looks at our counter women and ask to speak to a man, but I see that same type of treatment given to younger guys.

What do you believe are some of the most important skillsets to excel in a career in the aftermarket today?

I think the biggest thing is listening. Whether it is a shop guy that has been in the business for 20 years or a person walking in off the street you have to listen and ask questions. Don’t let a predetermined thought keep you from hearing what your customer is needing. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You also need to continue educating yourself. Automotive technology changes fast and you need to stay on top of your game.

 Are there any ways that you have personally mentored women to further their careers in the automotive aftermarket?

I am not sure if I would call it mentoring but I do encourage the women around me to not be afraid. I try to encourage them to have faith and to trust themselves. There is nothing a man can do that a woman can’t without the right training and smart ingenuity.