By BOB GRITZINGER | Contributing Editor The instrument panel "Driving…
Audra Fordin is an energetic woman in the automotive industry who has been earning recognition lately for her auto repair shop, savvy business sense, and her quest to educate others about car maintenance. As owner of the Great Bear Auto and Body Shop in Flushing, New York, Fordin combines her 27 years of hands-on car expertise with a zeal for life.
Audra and I met a few years ago through my work for a national auto dealer trade association. She had confided in me about an iPhone application she wanted to create and launch that would showcase information and tips for women who want to know how to take care of an auto problem – and without having to rely on taking it to the shop. I’m happy to report that Audra’s application has been on the market for nearly one year, and it has seen much success. Learn more about the “What Women Auto Know” app for iPhone here.
But the mobile app was just the tip of the iceberg for Fordin. Earlier this year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Fordin’s shop the 2011 New York City Small Business of the Year. Audra has also been educating everyone from Girl Scouts to the elderly through her monthly workshops and radio programming.
I recently caught up with Audra over the phone to discuss her most recent recognition. The Car Care Council Women’s Board named Fordin its first Female Service Shop Owner of the Year. “This award was unique – it still is – something spectacular being that it is nationwide recognition,” said Fordin about the honor. “I feel like the world is ready and now I can’t stop,” she added.
When asked about why she’s so passionate about the auto repair business and educating others about it, Audra indicated that her inspiration lies in her belief that the auto repair industry is still stuck in the 1960’s and is in need of a complete overhaul. “Why aren’t women into [auto repair]?” asked Fordin. “I think it’s upbringing, not that we don’t have the ability.”
To Audra, the award is further motivation for her to keep going with these powerful initiatives to help break gender barriers in her industry. “[The award] just validates that I’m moving forward and I’m going to change the perception of auto repair nationwide,” said Fordin. And as a fellow car gal, who could certainly learn a thing or two from this auto repair woman extraordinaire, I think that’s pretty awesome.