EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer serves on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce.
By Julie delos Santos, Burien Auto Rebuild
Andrea H. Reay, President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce
March is Women’s History month. It’s a time to reflect and admire the work that has been done to create more equity for women in our community. It’s also a time to advocate and encourage greater systems of equity for women, especially women in business and female entrepreneurs.
At the Chamber we are passionate about supporting our female entrepreneurs, especially those in non-traditional industry sectors like construction, the trades, and automotive services.
Julie delos Santos is one of those amazing female entrepreneurs our Chamber is proud to serve. Julie owns Burien Auto Rebuild, a local auto collision and repair shop serving the Burien community for over 25 years with superior collision and auto painting services. Julie recently shared her thoughts with us about her business and her personal journey in entrepreneurship:
“Burien Auto Rebuild was a business that I never expected to happen and was by far the best decision I have ever made along with my cousin and business partner, Jamie. My father, Orencio, who owned Foreign Auto Rebuild in South Lake Union brought me on as a teenager working in the office during holidays and summers. This then continued into my college years. Eventually, I became full-time and started learning all aspects of the business. Although I do not have the experience of physically repairing cars, I learned the process and became fascinated with the talent and knowledge it takes to repair a vehicle start to finish. I decided that, when it became time for my parents to semi-retire, I wanted to take it a step further and learn the business from the front office to the production and delivery of vehicles. It was at Foreign Auto Rebuild where my mom, Penny, taught me bookkeeping, my cousin Dan who taught me parts ordering, Jeff who helped me improve my estimating skills, and my dad who taught me production, customer service and vehicle delivery. I did attend an estimating school in Fresno, CA. which gave me the basic tools to understand estimating, however hands on experience is where I have learned the most. The past ten years I have spent most of my time working on and learning the business from the financial aspect. Although this will be my 27th year working in this industry, I am still learning every day.”
“As with any business, there will be times of struggle, times of excitement and celebration and times where you have hard decisions to make. As a woman, coming up in a male dominated industry, I have seen and experienced the struggles of working not only to cultivate a successful and productive work atmosphere for employees, but also to insert myself into a world where women have not always been taken seriously or worse, dismissed. These experiences have given me thick skin and have taught me that although, at times, things may seem unfair, this is life. Instead of falling victim to the glass ceiling that this industry may have presented me, I decided to break through and prove that I am more than capable. This has not come without assistance. I learned early on to ask for help when needed and to not be afraid of how this may make me look. What I found by being open to opinion and constructive criticism is my success will not come to me by simply showing up every day, but by inviting the ‘village’ of people and resources available within my industry to help guide along the way. With this, I have met some very successful people that have shared with me not only their stories of successes, but also their knowledge of how they got there. These same people, this ‘village’, are who we owe this opportunity to as they have supported us the entire journey.”
“A few years ago, we were fortunate to have among our team a woman who embodied the skills, passion and talent for collision repair, Adra Rice. She had some experience working in other neighboring shops and a lot of knowledge with estimating. The wealth of knowledge that she brought to our team was immense and I learned so much from her. After a few months of working in the front office, she started working in the shop disassembling and reassembling vehicles and eventually began doing body repairs. Her enthusiasm for repair work was inspiring to me. She spoke of opening her own repair shop to create a legacy for her two children. Unfortunately, not long after Adra began working more in the body shop, on a trip with her family, we tragically lost her to a watercraft accident. Adra will always be missed and hopefully, through this piece as well as those who knew her, will be an inspiration for other women to get into collision repair or other areas of work that are traditionally male trades. Burien Auto Rebuild, whether male or female, encourage anyone who is interested in getting into body work to do so. There is a shortage of repair technicians and as society evolves, I hope to see and employ more women in the future.”
The Chamber is grateful to women like Adra Rice and Julie delos Santos for their support and help building a village that creates and encourages opportunity. The Chamber also extends their sympathy and best wishes to Ms. Rice’s family and friends. For those in our community planning their careers or thinking about starting a business, please connect with the Chamber and join our village of support and service.
Have questions, or need support? The Chamber is a phone call or email away and is in business for your business.
This article was written by Julie delos Santos of Burien Auto Rebuild and Andrea H. Reay, President/CEO of Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce, “A voice for business, a leader in the community.” Seattle Southside Chamber has served the communities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, and Tukwila since 1988.
For more information about the Chamber, including a full list of member benefits and resources, please visit www.SeattleSouthsideChamber.com.