In honor of Mother’s Day, this issue of TRIBE pays tribute to those driven, talented women who have dedicated their lives to the growth and well-being of two sets of offspring: one of their wombs and one of their imaginations. Raising children and running a business are equally demanding and time-consuming endeavors, but the four women profiled in our cover story not only manage to do both well, they’ve also found ways to blend their two passions so that each is made better by the existence of the other. Patience, creativity, courage, fortitude … these women have what it takes to be confident moms and successful business owners. Rock on, Momtrepreneurs. We salute you!
The Great Car-mmunicator
Carchick Rebekah Fleischaker has built a thriving career changing oil … while changing diapers.
by Elyse Glickman
Rebekah Fleischaker’s secret to success in both motherhood and a heavily male-dominated industry is two-fold: focusing on the long term and capitalizing on her communication strengths as a woman.
“Part of my gift is being able to convey information to my customer and tune in to what they say back to me,” says the Studio City resident and mother of a 9-year-old, as mechanics and customers breeze in and out of her auto repair shop, California Automotive and Mobile Mechanics (carchick.com). “Just as I do with my own son, I look at the customers’ facial expressions to figure out how to approach a problem. Being a woman is actually very useful in this business.”
Fleischaker, who grew up in a “traditional Jewish home in Florida,” joined the Navy reserves after high school to earn money for college and get on a track that would lead to work at the United Nations. When those plans didn’t pan out, the 19-year-old returned home to find that her truck had been totaled by a friend. It turned out to be a fortuitous incident.
“While I was waiting for the owner [of a garage] to survey the damage, his phone rang and I answered,” she recalls. “Soon after that, he hired me as his secretary. I spent the garage’s downtime reading auto repair manuals and catalogs I found under the desk. I would ask my boss what a certain word meant, and his response was a terse, ‘You don’t need to know.’ And I responded, ‘If you could teach me a little bit about this, I feel that the garage would make more money because we would be better able to communicate with customers.’ ”
The wheels of her career were set in motion. She moved to Los Angeles in 1989 and started an auto repair business that will pick up your car and deliver it when done, do the work where you are, or in their shop. In 1990, she moved the business into its current location at 14254 Oxnard, on the border between Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys.
Two decades later, though her business is thriving, Fleischaker is content with keeping it the same size and not losing sight of the complex, quality precision work that has kept clients loyal.
“Men are focused on one task at a time, while women multitask,” she says, thinking about the advice she offers young women attending her hands-on seminars at UCLA’s Extension Program. “I do several things at once, which is so indicative of both a traditional Jewish mama and modern women entrepreneurs. Truth be told, owning an auto body shop and fixing people’s cars is all about being of service, which is a very Jewish thing and part of being a woman. I deal with customers better because I am a woman, but I also happen to know how to rebuild an engine.
“When it comes to going into a nontraditional field for women, I advise people — don’t be afraid to try something new, but also don’t be afraid to ask somebody you respect to teach you how to do it.”