Michelle Winn, the lead diagnostic technician at Beck Service Center, has no trouble holding her own in a male-dominated profession.
“She takes the teasing as well as she dishes it out,” owner Ben Stallings said. “There needs to be more women in the automotive workplace.
“When Michelle first came here she didn’t want me to tell the customers that she was working on their cars because they might not think that a woman could do the job right. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that she knew what she was doing. She is very intelligent, and she is continually improving herself by attending workshops.”
And administrators at Lincoln Technical Institute must also think highly of Winn because they inducted her into their Hall of Fame during a ceremony April 20 at the Indiana War Memorial.
“It was a really nice program,” Winn said, “and the food was good. I am the first woman inducted into Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis Hall of Fame.”
Winn’s interest in an automotive career was piqued when she “retired’ from flipping burgers at Wendy’s and took a front desk job at Indy Tire while attending IUPUI about 30 years ago. “I watched the guys work, and it was interesting,” said Winn, who found herself graduating from Lincoln Tech in 1994 as the only woman in her class.
She then worked at a Goodyear service center for six years, doing brakes, steering, suspension and underhood maintenance.
Winn moved on to Linder Technical Services, where she helped to recondition fuel injectors, answered hotline calls from member shops and diagnosed tough drivabilility problems.
She took her talents to Beck Service Center in 2009 and has been diagnosing check engine lights, traction control, electrical issues, lighting controls and malfunctioning door locks ever since.
“The flashing lights and red ones are important,” she said. “You need to have those looked at as soon as possible. The amber lights are also important, but they don’t require immediate attention.
“After customers drop off their cars I drive them to verify what the customers are telling me. I then hook them up to the computer, which leads me in the right direction. If the repair isn’t going to be time-consuming, I’ll do it. Otherwise, I’ll send it to another technician so I’m free to look at other cars. I don’t like to get backlogged,” she said.
“I really like what I do, and I don’t sit around very much. I’m not treated any different than one of the guys. I get a lot of satisfaction out of figuring out what’s wrong. It’s especially rewarding when I solve the tough problems.”
Winn, who has been featured in “Readers Digest” and “Better Housekeeping,” says the best form of learning is when she fails and then gets it right.
When away from work, she likes to play the piano spend time with her 13-year-old daughter, Hannag, who runs cross-country for Greenwood Christian Academy and is a second-degree black belt in taw kwon do. And she has two stepdaughters, Marissa and Julianne. With husband Steve Ferron being a diagnostic technician at Beck Automotive in Franklin, it’s a no-brainer as to what dinner conversations revolve around.
Winn said her parents, Al and Sally Spangler, were really proud when she was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “My parents, who are retired school music teachers, helped me with my education.”