Bethanee Witt-Green can certainly find her way around an engine but prefers not to fiddle with the mechanics of a car unless she has to.
That's what workshops are for, she says.
For a young woman — she's 23 — Witt-Green has already spent a few years in the automotive business. She has owned a car valet company, a car importing and sales business and currently works in the new and used Suzuki and Mitsubishi end of Pacific Motor Group in Whangārei — selling anything from dinky little shopping baskets to farm vehicles.
Witt-Green comes from a long line of petrol heads and grease monkeys. Her grandfather had an automotive business in England, her father and other family members have car sales and valet businesses, her dad raced motorbikes in England and her aunt was a top Australian drag racer.
Witt-Green was keen on a career in business when she left school in Hamilton but ended up working for her father, then a car importer where she learned about valeting. At 19, she started her own valet company which she ran with her partner Georgia Green. When they sold it a couple of years later they had two branches, six employees and the business was running at capacity.
The couple, who are now married, moved to Whangārei and started Monster Motors, selling used Japanese imports, thinking: ''There is no reason why Whangārei locals can't buy great cars at great prices.''
They operated out of shared warehouse premises in south Whangārei and were slowly gearing up by selling mainly online. When the other company gave up its lease, Monster Motors wasn't quite ready to take on a large space and reluctantly closed shop.
Witt-Green is enjoying working for someone else but although women have played a major role in the company's admin, management, ownership and other areas, she is the only female salesperson at Pacific. She was pleased to find when she started the job there was a young woman doing a mechanic's apprenticeship there.
With as many women as men driving cars, she cannot understand why the automotive industry is still largely a man's domain.
''Men who come in are sometimes quite taken aback when they realise I'm in car sales,'' she said.
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Her age also surprises people, other women as much as men. It's something she's encountered many times over the years.
''You just have to talk to people, be friendly and helpful and show them you know what you are talking about.''
While the saying goes that the customer is always right, customers sometimes don't know what they want, Witt-Green said. They are also brand loyal, or have been advised by others which brand they should buy. Buying a car doesn't have to be complicated or scary, but it can seem quite a ''personal'' matter.
''The buyer usually comes in with an idea of what they need and we work through not which brand is 'best', but which suits them best.''
Men sometimes like to try to catch her out with motor performance and engine talk, but she takes it as part of the job; men do that with each other, too. (Although they don't address the salesperson as ''girlie''.)
Witt-Green thinks its especially important to buck stereotypes in industries where males dominate.
''Females in business is a great thing and I would hope that I could be the inspiration for some young girls, just like my Granddad was for me.''
''Attitudes are changing toward used car sales people in general,'' she said.
Could that be because of more stringent paperwork; higher safety standards; online info, sales and price guides? Possibly.
Witt-Green is unwilling to offer an opinion on whether having more women in the industry is partially responsible, saying instead there's an expectation on all sides that sales, and business in general, are transparent.
And that links in with her other career passion, business. She was on her way to study business after leaving school before the chance came up to build her own business with hands-on work rather than paper work.
But having already had a good taste through car valeting and Monster Motors, she fully expects one day to bring the practical and the business sides closer together again. Whatever happens, a future in the car industry blends her upbringing, learned skills and aspirations.
''I like what I'm doing now but I feel like I'm also destined to have my own company one day.''
It's a competitive world in anyone's language but one this keen Northland Football premier women's player is not afraid to tackle.
''I don't always like having to step out of my comfort zone and put myself out there - but if you want it, you do it.''
• Northland businesses come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a business story to share please contact Lindy Laird, Ph 09 470 2801, or email email@example.com