VACAVILLE — Norma Serrano has been working on and painting cars since she was 14 and can think of nothing she would rather do.
“It is all the process of taking a vehicle and making it beautiful,” said a proud Serrano, who is now the general manager of the Maaco Collision Repair and Auto Painting on Elmira Road.
Owner Vince McAllister thinks the world of her.
“She knows her paint and there is not a more knowledgeable person that I know than her,” he said.
McAllister knew about Serrano’s abilities and love of cars for years. When he took over the Maaco franchise in 2006, he quickly asked her to join the team.
She said that working on cars has always been a hobby and that she is a fan of classic cars.
Originally from Mexico, Serrano came to Vacaville with her family and has stayed here since. She calls the town “a great community and a great place to raise kids.”
Serrano said – in jest – that she started working on cars as a teen because her father told her, “If I kept wrecking the car, I should know how to fix it.”
Yes, getting her hands into such a male-dominated career was tough, especially for a Latina. But her skills quickly won her respect for what she said started out as “a form of art and turned into more of a job.”
Serrano particularly loves Cameros and had owned five 1967 Cameros, which she admits she has both wrecked and rebuilt.
As general manager of Maaco’s Vacaville location, she oversees the work and takes care of the team that takes care of the vehicles that range from garbage trucks and heavy Air Force vehicles to classic cars and RVs.
“It has been very good,” Serrano said of the work at Maaco. “We have not had any real slow time.”
No matter the vehicle, Serrano said she puts the same amount of effort into it. She even shows the flawless paint job she put into a toy pedal truck for a young child.
The quality work that everyone at the business puts out is because they are a team that works close together, “and because no person here is unimportant,” she said.
Serrano said the best part of the job is working with the younger team members.
“I love working on the cars and showing the younger guys,” she said.
When it comes to her future, she sees no reason to change.
“This is what I want to do,” Serrano said. “I cannot see myself retiring.”
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.