Audra Fordin Great Bear Auto Repair & Body Shop>

Audra Fordin runs Great Bear Auto Repair and Auto Body in Flushing, Queens, a family business dating back to 1933.

For over a year, Fordin has been running free monthly workshops; called “What Women Auto Know”, teaching hundreds of women so far how to change a tire and fix a tail light.

Fordin’s leadership has lured new customers, helping Great Bear stay the course during the economic downturn. She also offers car repair tips on Verizon Fios TV Channel 1 and on the Auto Lab, a call-in car radio show broadcast locally on WMCA (570) AM.

As a woman what features are your favorites in a car?
I can’t speak for all women, but as for me, my favorite features are the gadgets on the car. Without GPS, I am lost as soon as I get around the corner I love the windshield wipers sensors that come on when automatically when it rains can’t be without a sunroof and have bluetooth, will travel!

Why does the auto industry seem like a difficult environment for females?
The auto industry is not any different than any other profession. If you work in a kitchen and do not know the difference between a butter knife and a butcher knife, much less, how to use a knife, then its not a job you are going to enjoy, and you will certainly not get any respect from you colleagues, or from employers as a professional. Auto repair is the same. It seems like a difficult environment for females, because of perception.

Why did you want to work in the auto industry?
Simply put, I wanted and still do work in the auto industry because I really love the field. I can’t think of anything else I would rather do. It’s about quality of life right? Well, this is the road I am happiest traveling on.

First automotive job?
My first automotive job… you mean the first task I did in the shop, like 8 years old answering the phones, and filing? Or do you mean going down into the pit, hooking up the Quickeeze gauges and running an alignment.

Proudest professional achievement?
My proudest achievement is 2 fold. Great Bear Auto repair and Auto body shop has been in my family since 1933. 4 GENERATIONS of Fordins have been standing on the same ground, at the same locations, working on cars! July, I won 2011 NYC small business of the year award. You know something, No matter how old I am, making my parents proud is a great achievement. My ongoing proudest professional achievement is, “women AUTO know” This brain-child of mine has given me inspiration, a passion and a drive to open the roadways and bring other women – the next generation into the auto repair industry.

Current challenge at work?
My current challenges at work, are educating consumers. I believe advertising is misleading and information is not easily accessible. After meeting and talking to people, I hear stories about taking their car to different auto shops, dealerships and the box stores for auto service, I have seen, and can understand why people have untrusting instincts when they seek service. They feel slighted, scammed, not sure what they bought, if they even got what they bought, if they needed it, WHAT’s Up with That? There really is no good reason for it too, at least not one that I can understand. Because of this, I changed my motto my philosophy doing business is to tell, not sell. Maintaining your car is really cut and dry.

Dream job?
If I quit, sold my store and moved away, I would still find and do the same thing. I feel very fortunate and very blessed. I have truly found my mission and passion in my life my journey to my dream job is the path I am on now. Educating and empowering women about auto repair and laying the foundation for the next generation to have a smooth entry into the auto repair industry is my dream is all over that! (Yes, men you can be in on it too)

What you do to relax?
Relax? If I say I relax when I sleep, that’s not true. In my sleep my mind is running, and fast. I keep a notebook on the night table next to my bed so I can jot down my thoughts. yup, even at 1am. But really, I have 3 children and enjoy spending time with them Hmmmm, other moms are reading this saying – yeah right, you relax with your kids. Well, I guess not, and I promise you, homework was not fun for ma back then, and its still not fun… ok back to the topic here, relax I am a saltwater fish hobbyist I like to watch the fish in tank, I garden, love weeding and playing with flowers and you know what else, I can spend mindless hours in the supermarket. I can spend mindless hours in the department stores too, but having to put the clothes back on the hangers after trying the clothes on is not always relaxing.

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