Other Articles - December - 2022

“Unapologetically Female”

Maria Fernanda Erazo Gallegos wears her hot-pink and black uniform proudly. It’s her badge of honor, differentiating her from every other transmission shop out there. Her pink building, pink logo, and coordinating social media help her stand out in a barrage of blacks, blues, greys, and reds. Talleres Caja Rosa, the name of her shop, literally translates to “Pink Box Garage.” She told me during a conversation that men would ask her, “Why pink?” They said this is a transmission shop; pink doesn’t belong here. Well, she’s proving them all wrong! Because in Ecuador, when it comes to transmission service, training, or continued education, she has everyone seeing PINK!

Maria’s presence was certainly noticed at this year’s 2022 ATRA Powertrain Expo in Las Vegas. Her name was mentioned over and over by attendees and staff. “Who’s this charming, educated, and confident woman that came all the way from Ecuador,” they asked? She’s allowed me to share her fascinating story with you, and it is truly remarkable.

Maria’s shop, Talleres Caja Rosa, is located in Cuenca, Ecuador. Her father, Oswaldo Erazo, was a transmission builder, and he originally opened the shop 45 years ago in Quito, Ecuador, where she was born. It was one of only four transmission shops in the entire city. Maria thinks that at around age 4, when she’d stay at the family shop with her father was about when she fell in love with the automotive world. She didn’t quite know it back then, but it hit her at age 15 when her parents asked her what she wanted to specialize in at school. “I couldn’t see myself without my overalls and boots.” At age 17, she started learning about the family business while studying at the university.

Today, she has a mechanical engineering degree, specializing in Automatic Transmissions. If that weren’t impressive enough, she also has an MBA in international business from the University of Barcelona and her association certifications through ATSG and ATRA. She says, “I think it’s essential to keep learning, training, and networking with other people in the industry.

Maria isn’t just a female business owner and builder. Her resume is quite lengthy. She’s done so much to give back to her community and the industry. She started a class called “Survival Mechanics for Women,” teaching women basic mechanical skills. She then expanded, after the pandemic, to training and teaching classes specializing in automatic transmissions in cooperation with the Ingecap Institute in Ambato, Ecuador, and CNTA (National Consortium of Automotive Shops), a national association in Ecuador with over 1,000 shop members. She has agreements with several other educational institutions and continues to add more. She also provides free seminars and low-income automotive mechanical training to those who can’t afford to pay for their education. Education is truly her passion.

This year Maria has been invited, for the third time in a row, to speak to the Expomecánico México, the international mechanics congress hosted in Mexico. According to its organizer, over 12,000 mechanics throughout Latin America attend this event. No doubt they will learn a lot from a woman who can teach everything from basic fundamentals to CVTs and European models.

Being a shop owner myself, I’m blown away by all Maria has accomplished while running her own successful facility. She doesn’t brag or boast about all the important work she does. She’s an excellent example for all shop owners, proving that we can always find ways to give back and educate the next generation. One thing that isn’t different between our country and Maria’s is the need for top-notch technicians. It’s up to us to share our knowledge and pass the torch to those who will follow in our footsteps.

If you’re an amazing woman in the auto industry and want to learn more about AWIA, please visit AmazingWIA.com and join their private ladies-only roundtable group on Facebook for information about the weekly meetings and events. If you’d like information about donating to our scholarship fundraiser for Women in Automotive, please e-mail me at tiffany@Amazingwia.com.