How Virginia Tire aims to get more women into auto repair

McLean, Virginia-based Virginia Tire & Auto started a recruiting campaign in January specifically to attract more women to the auto repair business.

Co-CEO Julie Holmes says she has recruited 31 women since then, for roles that include technicians, sales and administration.

Now, Holmes is launching a scholarship for women entering the industry.



The Women in Automotive scholarship will provide up to three scholarships for postsecondary education for candidates planning to attend a National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence-certified auto technology program. The scholarships are worth up to $2,500 per candidate for one semester of tuition and materials.

The scholarships will be awarded to young women who are high school seniors.

Those who maintain a minimum grade-point average and meet other requirements may keep the scholarship across multiple semesters. The scholarships do not have any post-certification commitment to work specifically for Virginia Tire.

Virginia Tire & Auto employee Sarah Price is a warehouse manager at the Sterling location. (Courtesy Virginia Tire & Auto/Jim Folliard)

Auto technician jobs require much more than mechanical skills. Today’s vehicles are really rolling computers.

“To be able to work on today’s cars, you have to be highly technical and highly skilled. Our technicians are effectively applying scientific method as they go through the diagnostic process. We say if you want a career in high tech, that’s this. This is auto repair,” Holmes said.

Auto technician jobs pay well. In fact, very well.

“We have technicians who are making over $200,000 a year, and many that are making more than $100,000 or $150,000. The money is there for those who have the ability to solve these problems. And like any career where you can solve a problem, you are rewarded and compensated well,” Holmes said.

Virginia Tire is one of the largest women-owned businesses in the D.C. region. Half of its roughly 270 employees are women. The 46-year-old company opened its 17th location in Northern Virginia earlier this year, and expanded outside of Northern Virginia in 2019 with a location in the Richmond area.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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