NZ Women Leading in Panelbeating and Car Painting

We’re pleased to see the significant profile showcasing women in the panelbeating and car painting trades in the current Collision Repair Assoc mag PanelTalk. We’ve featured women in the collision repair trades before, most recently at but women are still woefully under-represented in the trade and the issue warrants much more profile.

PanelTalk comments that more young women are finally choosing to enter what has always been a very male dominated sector. We certainly commend those women on their career choice, and the business owners for broadening their thinking and spotting a valuable employee when they see one. PanelTalk also profiled some of these employers including Porirua Auto Body Repairs who now have a 40% female staff led by co-owner Wendy Arnold-Mackie who heads the paint shop. Wendy’s team includes adult apprentice Tatiana Massey who is already a qualified auto mechanic, and Melissa Fitt, a trainee panelbeater. Queenstown Panelbeaters is also featured, with a unique claim to having their paint refinishing section fully staffed by female apprentices and trades-women. Both business comment that their women are highly skilled and motivated, and that the improved gender balance has had an enormously positive effect on the wider business culture. Many panelbeating and car painting businesses are owned and/or operated by women with great success too. Annette Gibson was profiled in PanelTalk and runs CE Spray Collision Repairs in Masterton, which is owned by Helen Mathewson. Annette recently won a MITO Business Skills Scholarship and is now completing her National Certificate in Business level 4.

The Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO) recently ran road-show promotions throughout the country that attracted wide interest from young women interested in a career path in the automotive trades. MITO is lead by a women, CEO Janet Lane, and the promotional tour was lead by MITO’s Strategic Communications Manager Rachael Dippie. PanelTalk said that feedback from the tours indicated that perceptions of the panelbeating and car painting industry were changing radically. Both the students and career advisers attending, all discovered that the industry is a lot more technically advanced than they realised. The tours also highlighted that gender is no barrier to work that has transitioned over recent decades from heavy dirty manual labour, to much more sophisticated technician grade work that requires a scientific approach and a high level of intelligence. Many female students attended and PanelTalk included a brief interview with 17yr old Brandi Harrison from Kelston Girls High who now has her eyes firmly fixed on a diesel mechanic apprenticeship. We wish Brandi and all those other young women every success in their employment search, and a bright & rewarding career in panelbeating and car painting or the wider automotive trades!

NOTE: the image shows Reanna McGreevey, a 21yr old panelbeater

9 Responses

  1. Terri
    | Reply

    How fantastic is this to see women achieving at the top of traditional trades. It would be very inspiring for some of these young girls to see these inspiring role models too. Well done Crash Team, a very interesting read, lets see some more of it!

  2. Reg P
    | Reply

    There have always been a few women in trade and they’ve usually been pretty good . Crash Management boss Karen Knight owned a big panel shop in South Auckland and had a lot to do with the CRA in the early days too. These females have never been included much in PanelTalk before so its good to see some attention now maybe its the PC thing to do these days. Aussie Panel & Paint website has a whole section about women in the trade so could be a good idea for PanelTalk as well. It’s good to see MITO doing something about getting more girls interested in the panel and paint trades as well and your right some of the best paint refinishers are women they have a good eye for detail. It’s hard to get kids interested in the trade these days so hopefully these keen young girls can fill the skills gap.

  3. Suze
    | Reply

    Congrats to Cassidy Repia named IAG Top Apprentice of the Year for Paint Refinishing last year – go girl! We’re all very proud of you. Well done PanelTalk too for carrying on the profile of women in our trades again this month.

  4. Hammer Head
    | Reply

    You missed the big story of the year Crash. Everyones known about the labour shortage crisis in the panel & paint business for YEARS. And FINALLY the governments got its head out of the sand and let us add the panel & paint trades to the skills shortage list – FINALLY!
    There are some good labour imports already working here but its been high drama and slow to get them in. Now finally it will be easier and faster to get staff from off shore thanks to the CRAs work on this problem. The collision repair business has never been busier so at least this answers one of the problems. The other one won’t be so easy convincing Ozzie owned mega corporate insurance companies that their misserable $60/hr labour rate is killing the trade. Maybe now the CRA can zero in on crisis number 2!

  5. Shane Mitchell
    | Reply

    Here’s another one for your collection Crash. We’ve been getting the Aussie Collision Repairer newsletter, the articles are good especially the international stuff. The Americans have a industry women’s award. Check out this line up this year it’s pretty impressive and a deserving winner whether you like Fix Auto or not.

    The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) announced this year’s honourees for the Most Influential Women (MIW) of the collision repair industry for 2018. After reviewing nominations and interviewing several talented women, four industry leaders were selected to receive Most Influential Women honours:
    • Shelley Bickett – Director, Co-Founder of Fix Auto USA and Owner of nine Fix Auto collision repair shops in California
    • Mary Mahoney -Vice President -Insurance Replacement Division, Enterprise Holdings, Inc.
    • Marie Peevy – Owner, Automotive Training Coordinators, LLC
    • Petra Schroeder-Collisionista
    The MIW award was established in 1999 to recognize the achievements of women in the collision repair industry. Since its establishment, over 80 women have been recognised for their contributions to industry.
    This year’s recipients exemplify the meaning of ‘Most Influential.’ All four women have been a positive force in the collision repair industry and their local communities. While reaching new professional milestones, they continued to mentor and support others. We are looking forward to celebrating with them during the upcoming WIN Educational Conference. Congratulations!” said Cheryl Boswell, Chief Financial Officer at DCR Systems, LLC, a 2015 MIW Honouree, and Co-Chair of the 2018 MIW Committee

  6. Crash Management
    | Reply

    Congratulations to Classic Auto Body Pukekohe! For a first-class, and also for their latest recruit – a young women now excelling in her chosen career in paint refinishing. It’s heartening to see more women in the trade – well done to all!

  7. Mike
    | Reply

    Certainly a positive move. I see significantly more women/girls working in the panel & paint trade these days even compared to even 10 years ago. When visiting shops there are many females in a range of roles including management, estimating (a couple), and many more on the tools. Cudos to MITO for the work they’ve done in this area.

  8. Crash Management
    | Reply

    And there’s more! 2017 Collision Repair Assoc Car Painting Apprentice of the Year SARAH CAMPBELL was profiled in the June industry magazine PanelTalk. Congratulations Sarah!

    The judges said they were beyond impressed with 23yr old Sarah’s passion, enthusiasm and commitment to her trade. Along with an impeccable eye for detail, they said Sarah displays a consistently high level of quality and professionalism in her work. Sarah works at Timaru based Babbage & McCullough P&P, and was high commended by them – their pride in their star apprentice was very clear.

    Sarah says she’s always had a keen interest ion cars and has already graduated with Level 3 & 4 National Certificate in Automotive Body. Now that she’s qualified Sarah says she’s eager to complete the NZ Certificate of Business (Front Line Management) so she can progress her career to foreman (that would be forewoman Sarah). Sarah’s long term plan is to own her own high quality panel & paint business one day – we wish her every success!

  9. Suze
    | Reply

    Move aside – the girls are taking over! So cool to see Amber Gabelich profiled on the Aussie Collision Repair site yesterday for winning in the World Skills comps. In case you missed it, here’s the whole announcement.


    An $8,000 scholarship boost will provide apprentice vehicle spray painter Amber Gabelich with an opportunity to enhance her skills in custom vehicle paintwork in the United States next year.
    The WorldSkills Australia vehicle painting bronze medallist is one of 15 recipients selected by a judging panel to receive the BBM Skilled Futures Program Scholarship, a joint initiative by WorldSkills Australia and BBM Youth Support to offer medallists an opportunity to travel abroad and undertake work experience.
    Currently completing the Certificate III in Automotive Refinishing Technology at Kangan Institute’s Automotive Centre of Excellence, Ms. Gabelich plans to complete work experience at a custom body shop in the United States to pursue her passion in custom vehicle painting. “I’m stoked to have this opportunity to travel overseas and partake in training I would not otherwise have a chance to,” she said. “I hope to further my trade by expanding my skills in the custom side of vehicle painting, especially the techniques and methods in custom fabrication, airbrushing and pin striping older vehicles. Custom painting is a much bigger industry in the United States so there’s a lot to learn and experience.”
    Kangan Institute CEO Trevor Schwenke congratulated Ms. Gabelich on her new scholarship and wished her well on her upcoming work experience. “We’re so proud of Amber for attaining the BBM Skilled Futures scholarship. It’s a fantastic achievement and a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain new skills and experiences to benefit her future,” said Mr. Schwenke.
    “Apprentices like Amber prove that pursuing TAFE training and a trade career can lead to incredible experiences outside of typical classroom and workplace training environments.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *