Women in Auto Care Awards Draw a Crowd

November 2, 2023

Women in Auto Care Awards Draw a Crowd

Women in Auto Care, a community of the Auto Care Association, annually distributes awards in recognition of the amazing contributors within the automotive industry. Yesterday, Women in Auto Care announced its 2023 award recipients during the Women in Auto Care Awards ceremony that took place at this year’s Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) in Las Vegas. The Women in Auto Care “Women of the Year” awards include: “Lifetime Achievement”, “Outstanding Leadership”, “Female Shop Owner of the Year”, “Woman of Excellence”, “Company Ally of the Year” and “Women in Auto Care Champion of the Year.”

“Since the inception of the Women in Auto Care awards, our group of candidates has grown exponentially,” said Jessica Toliuszis, chair, Women in Auto Care. “This year, we received 138 nominations. In anticipation of this explosive growth, we increased the number of awards to celebrate astonishing aftermarket talent. Adding new accolades, like the ‘Company Ally of the Year’ and ‘Lifetime Achievement’ awards expands our impact and our ability to celebrate transformational leadership. Twenty-five volunteer judges collaborated as our most diverse panel in history. Spanning nearly every channel in the automotive aftermarket, judges had the gargantuan task of selecting only a few extraordinary women and one exceptional company.”

The winners of the 2023 Women in Auto Care Awards

Lifetime Achievement: Tammy Tecklenburg

With nearly three decades in the automotive industry, Tammy Tecklenburg is both a visionary leader and a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. From her foundational years at Honeywell to her innovative leadership at dott., her influence spans Fortune 500 corporate boardrooms to grassroots initiatives. As the founder and President of the community of Women in Auto Care, she catalyzed a space for women to collaborate, thrive, and redefine their roles in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Recently, Tammy’s entrepreneurial spirit emerged with the creation of dott., empowering aftermarket organizations and promoting resilient cultures through DEI programs. dott., which stands for “diversity of thought,” swiftly became a recognized and awarded community for leaders to learn and grow together. Her legacy is a testament to her unwavering faith in the transformative power of community, uplifting the aftermarket, and nurturing collective progress towards a more inclusive future for all. “As the first woman to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award, I’m deeply moved by the recognition. This honor is a powerful affirmation of the incredible communities we’ve built together. The people I collaborated with, the teams I led, and the larger community I engaged with were partners in progress. Every milestone in my career, every vision brought to life, was made possible by our collective dedication. This is a celebration of our shared progress and aspirations,” explained Tammy Tecklenburg.

Outstanding Achievement: Jill Trotta

Jill Trotta is an accomplished industry leader with over 30 years of experience. With a background as a technician, Jill has risen through the ranks, showcasing her expertise and dedication in the automotive field. As the Vice President of Sales, Industry, and Marketing at RepairPal, and most recently as Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at Torqata (An ATD subsidiary). Jill played a pivotal role in expanding RepairPal’s certified network to over 2900 top-tier shops before her departure. Jill’s leadership journey has been marked by her commitment to advancing the industry and advocating for women through her participation in Women in Auto Care and Women in Automotive. She is a sought-after speaker and thought leader, sharing her knowledge on aftermarket, vehicle technology, independent repair shops, and the impact of price transparency. Jill’s industry leadership and dedication to empowering women have made her a respected figure in the automotive community. “Recognizing the pivotal role of women in the automotive industry, I am extremely humbled to receive this prestigious award. This achievement not only celebrates the collective triumphs of remarkable women who are my tribe but also serves as a poignant tribute to my late mother, whose indelible influence continues to inspire and guide my journey,” says Jill Trotta.

Female Shop Owner of the Year: Jessica Carrino

Although Jessica Carrino grew up among the service bays of her family’s business, Sparks Tire & Auto, she never imagined working there, much less owning it. But today, she’s not only owning the business – she’s also owning her leadership role throughout the automotive repair industry. Jessica was 16 when she began handling customer service at Sparks on weekends. After high school, she to Western Kentucky University, earning her B.S. degree in geography and architecture with bright plans for a career in home development – in the middle of the 2008 housing market crash. To gain experience (and, yes, income to pay the bills) while she waited for the housing market to heat up again, she came back to work at Sparks – and never left. Jessica initially took over all marketing for the shop, helping to keep customers coming back time and time again. Slowly she took over the customer service role, then the bookkeeping. Today, she handles all back-office aspects of the business, while her team handles the day-to-day operations and interactions with the customers. With all this solid foundation and strategic effort, it’s perhaps no surprise that Sparks was able to not only survive, but truly thrive through COVID, even expanding and adding more bays. It’s likely also not a surprise that Jessica’s short-term fill-in job has turned into her long-term fulfilling career. “I never thought of myself as a business owner or even as a leader,” Jessica says. “I just wanted to have a job and go home! Since being part of this business and then taking it over, though, I’ve seen how rewarding it can be to fix a car and make a customer happy. Now I encourage people to get into their own business as well. I’m glad that things happened the way they did because I don’t want to be anywhere other than this.” When asked what winning this award meant to her, Jessica stated “I cried. When I opened that email and found out that I was the winner I cried. I called my mom crying. I was so excited, so honored, so ecstatic! This has been a goal of mine since 2018. I work with a business coach and every year we have to write down our goals for the next year. Last December, I wrote down Become Female Shop Owner of the Year and I have stared at that paper every day, as it is hanging in my office. I am so excited I get to check that box off as achieved this year!”

Woman of Excellence: Susan Starnes

Susan Starnes serves as Vice President of Emerging Markets for NAPA, where her passion and leadership shine through various efforts, such as being a key player in mobilizing the organization to support Right to Repair and speaking at industry events. Her dedication to the industry and her community extends further as an Executive Champion for Women in Auto Care, an Auto Care Association’s Government Affairs and Emerging Tech Committees member and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta Board Member. Susan is an advocate for women, as evidenced by the Women in Auto Care naming her a “Woman of Excellence” in 2023. “Receiving this award is a profound honor that symbolizes the importance of innovation and diversity with this industry,” shares Susan. “I’m proud to be in the company of such talented, driven people supporting the advancement of women.”

Woman of Excellence: Tanya Hunt

Tanya Hunt serves as a Commercial Project Manager at BBB Industries, where she leads cross-functional projects to benefit her company and its customers. With almost a decade of experience at BBB Industries and a background in Oil & Gas, Hunt is a valuable addition to the team. She is also a member of the YANG Leadership Council and serves as a WIAC champion. Hunt is committed to serving the industry with her skills and expertise, just as she does for her own company. Her work is driven by the question, “How can I help?” When asked what winning this award meant to her, she stated “Women in Auto Care gave me my spark back. I’m excited about the opportunities to help others grow in our industry and make it the best it can be.”

Woman of Excellence: Ashlee Arnold

Ashlee Arnold is Vice President of Arnold Oil Company of Austin, a wholesale aftermarket parts, oil, equipment, and fuel distribution chain. According to her family, at a few days old, they put her in a basket under the desk and she’s basically been there ever since. Growing up in the aftermarket, she’s been actively involved in every aspect of the business and considers this industry her home. Ashlee is currently the Auto Care Association’s Chair of the AWDA Council of Governors, on the Federated Board of Governors and Co-Man Council as well as the ACPAC committee, Denso Council and AC Delco Fleet committee. She’s previously been chair of YANG, sat on the market intelligence committee and the AC Delco Policy & Procedure committee. In 2019 she was honored with the 4 For the Future Impact Award and in 2021 as a Woman at the Wheel. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering and giving back to her local community. “I truly believe in our industry and the amazing people in it. It’s a family and one I’m grateful to be a part of. Winning this award is an honor. For others to see my love and commitment to the aftermarket means the world to me. I hope to continue to be a part of others’ journey to see how special this group is and make them feel at home too,” says Ashlee Arnold.

Woman of Excellence: Jennifer Tio

Jennifer Tio joined Maximum Marketing Services, Inc. in 1985 as an account executive and currently serves as the president and owner of the agency. She is an aftermarket industry advocate and is active in many professional organizations, including the University of the Aftermarket Foundation where she holds the role of executive director. She served as president of the Car Care Council Women’s Board (now Women in Auto Care) and treasurer of the Automotive Communications Council. Tio holds an Automotive Aftermarket Professional (AAP) designation and has received the Northwood University Automotive Aftermarket Management Education Award. She has also been honored as Aftermarket Woman of the Year. “I have been fortunate to spend my career in the aftermarket and it is very encouraging to see the growing number of women in our industry today. The auto care industry is essential and a great place to work. Joining organizations like Women in Auto Care provides an opportunity to meet and learn from experienced professionals representing various aspects of the industry. I hope this honor inspires more women to get involved and make the aftermarket their professional home.”

Company Ally of the Year: Standard Motor Products, Inc.

Standard Motor Products, Inc. (SMP) is proud to sponsor Women in Auto Care and their exceptional programs which support and encourage women in the industry. Women in Auto Care events and programs offer personal and professional development opportunities that make a profound impact on our employees. We are incredibly honored to receive the Company Ally of the Year Award in recognition of our continued dedication to empowering women in our company and in our industry. We look forward to our continued partnership in Women in Auto Care, elevating and empowering women of SMP and in the industry as a whole.

Women in Auto Care Champion of the Year: April Williamson

April Serves as an associate category manager, tool and equipment, for Genuine Parts Company (NAPA), where she manages the overall strategic, promotional planning and supplier relationships across multiple categories. “I began with Women in Auto Care as a champion volunteer in 2022, when I joined forces with my mentor, Missy Stephens, helping with Women in Auto Care Tool Kits Scholarships,” said Williamson. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had within my organization. The following year I was given the exciting opportunity to lead the Tool Kit Scholarships, sponsored by Genuine Parts Company. Working with other women in the same industry is empowering.” The Tool Kit Scholarship Program helps bridge the gap for new female technicians coming into the industry. April came into the industry with little knowledge and has adapted with a fire and a love for all things tools and equipment. She is always the first to raise her hand, offering to help other women in the industry.

“No one should feel like a dream is not obtainable because of financial hardships or economical background,” said Williamson. “It is incredibly satisfying to be part of removing some of the barriers that women feel they face.” April, like many of these women, loves tools and going against the standard grain. “We only have one life and I feel fortunate to have a work environment that offers so much fulfillment. I’m humbled that I’ve been given so many opportunities to better myself while also being challenged to help others on their own path to success.”