VACAVILLE — Working on cars has always been her hobby.
In fact, most of that work came from repairing damage from the fun Norma Serrano had while out driving around.
“My dad said if I keep wrecking the car, I had to learn to fix it,” Serrano said.
The 52-year-old has since established herself in the top echelon of car painters in the entire Maaco company. The general manager of the Vacaville location said painting has always come naturally to her and she’s happy to have a job where she can use her skills every day.
“I love painting. It’s an art. It’s my passion,” Serrano said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about loving what you do. This job has allowed me to do what I do and play how I play.”
A big fan of classic cars, Serrano has owned five 1967 Camaros.
“I keep wrecking them. I keep building them,” she said, in jest.
No matter the vehicle, Serrano said she puts the same amount of effort into it.
“I look at it like a canvas,” she said. “I want to be able to put art to it.”
Touring the Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting grounds, one of the biggest in California, it’s easy to see a lack of women working on the vehicles. Being a woman in the male-dominated field has never been an issue. Serrano said that comes from not making a big deal about it herself and just simply producing a quality job.
“I’ve never experienced any discrimination. I’ve always had encouragement,” she said. “They’re mostly impressed, as long as you know your product and know the job.”
The men she works with keep her looking good, Serrano said. Whether it’s the prep work before the job or the detailing after, she said it’s a team effort.
“They’re my backbone,” she said. “In the long run, they make you better.”
Serrano said being a woman has actually gained her some attention while working for various outfits over the years.
“People would say, ‘The girl painted it,’ ” she said. “ ‘Oh, you mean Norma.’ ”
There may be a protegé in-the-making under Serrano. Dawn Scheible is learning her way through the business from Serrano. Scheible said from the time she was in school to learn the craft, it was obvious how rare a woman was.
“She’s so experienced. I can learn so much from her,” Scheible said. “You have to be tough and accept the humor of this job.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.