Susanne Figueira is the owner and operator of Cloverdale Auto Repair Centre in downtown Cloverdale. (Sasha Lakic)

WOMEN IN CLOVERDALE: Susanne Figueira steers the course for Cloverdale auto

Figueira took the wheel of the family business, started in 1977, about six years ago

As the owner of Cloverdale Auto Repair Centre Ltd., Susanne Figueira is somewhat of an anomaly. Even in 2019, it’s not often that you see a woman own a business in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Figueira has been helping around the shop, which her father started in 1977, since she was in high school. She continued to lend a hand while she was earning a BA in History from Simon Fraser University.

After graduation, she continued her education, acquiring a diploma in library and information technology from the University of the Fraser Valley, and went on to work at Cloverdale Library.

But about six years ago, when her father retired, Figueira left her career in library science to take over the shop.

“I gave up all the other things I was doing,” she said. Library studies was “what I thought I wanted to do, but in reality [the shop] was home.”

These days, she steps in wherever needed at her shop, doing a bit of everything to keep it rolling smoothly.

Figueira said the industry has become more accommodating to women in recent years, but noted there are still people who prefer talking to men about automotive needs, especially those from the older generation.

One way she overcomes that is with the sheer knowledge she has amassed over the years. Although she said that people will try to get around talking to a female employee, once they do, “and they come to the conclusion that you do know what you’re talking about … they are usually pretty receptive.”

“In the last five years, there are definitely more women in the industry, working on the floor as technicians, as owners, or working in parts distribution as sales people,” Figueira said.

One of the biggest challenges of running an auto repair business, she said, is recruiting a new generation of workers as the older ones go into retirement and younger workers gravitate to different trades or professions.

Figueira said auto technicians are not “grease monkeys” anymore. There is a learning curve new entrants must master to handle the intricacies of the career.

“You actually have to have other computer skills and knowledge. You have to be able to problem solve. It is complex at times,” she said.

On top of that, there can also be financial challenges. “This is probably one of the most expensive trades to come into in terms of accumulation of tools that are required to do the job,” Figueira said.

Citing her father, she said the shop is a good way to raise and support a family since “you never have to worry about where your next paycheque was coming from.”

“Everyone drives, everyone needs a car,” Figueria quipped. “We got to keep things rolling on the road for them.”



sasha.lakic@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP say boy, 11, missing for two days found safe

Dominic Mattie was last seen at 5 p.m. in the 13500-block of Gateway Drive in Surrey

Surrey Mountie won’t face charges for scooter scuffle

The Surrey-based IIO has decided not to forward the case to Crown counsel for review

High-risk sex offender released into Surrey

Earon Wayne Giles, a Newton “tag-team rapist,” was released from prison Friday and is now living in Surrey

VIDEO: Nature provides practice space for North Delta musician

Terry Lee has become a fixture over the years playing his cornet in and near the Delta Nature Reserve

Pedestrian seriously injured in Surrey traffic crash

A 54-year-old man was hit by a car early Thursday evening while crossing Highway 10 at 152nd Street

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Burnaby facility to dispose of 1,500 tonnes of Canada’s trash from Philippines

All 103 containers will be disposed of properly within Canada before the end of the summer

Most Read