By Julie Plante
Being curious, I just had to ask Colleen Homer, who is Ravine Auto Repair Centre’s female mechanic, do you prefer watching Nascar or Formula 1? “Neither,” said Colleen, “I am all about hockey, a true blue Leaf fan and a Marner gal.”
Ravine Auto Repair has been a staple in the neighbourhood for decades. In 2011, Rob Tucker bought the business and made the leap from mechanic to owner. Rob’s wife, Leeanne, and his sister, Joanne, run the front of the shop. And if you are lucky, you can get to visit with Bandit, the family dog who often spends the day.
Ravine Auto supports the community by donating to local schools and sponsoring Durham West Lightning, a girls hockey team that’s part of the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.
Colleen is a Scarborough girl through and through. She grew up at Birchmount and Lawrence and then moved to Morningside and Kingston Road when she married her husband, Scott.
Her love of cars started early and was solidified when her Dad took her to her first car show, Canada’s Wonderland Corvette Summer, when she was 13. To this day, Colleen’s dream car to own would be a ’60s or ’70s Classic Corvette.
Colleen was 16 when she went to work in her Mom’s office for the summer in downtown Toronto, and fully realized that office work was not for her. Her Grade 11 auto shop teacher saw her potential and encouraged Colleen to apply for the CITI Motor Power Program. There were 500 applicants and 50 were accepted, one of whom was Colleen.
There were four other females in the program with one of them stating to Colleen, “I’m only here to meet guys.” Colleen started the program in Grade 12 and after 9,000 hours in shop experience and two years at college, wrote her certification exam and became a licensed mechanic in 2007.
Colleen worked at Total Auto Service for 15 years and this is where she met Rob. They kept in touch over the years and four years ago in January Rob reached out to her to catch up over a beer and offered Colleen a position at Ravine Auto Repair, which was happily accepted.
Colleen is an integral member of the team and loves the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Before Total Auto Service, Colleen worked at a dealership and a few small shops, preferring the smaller shops as there is a lot more variety and the opportunity to work on all types of cars.
Colleen has had a few instances throughout the years with males not preferring a female to work on their cars. She has always had the full backing of her managers on this and the message relayed was crystal clear that Colleen would be the one working on the vehicle, which is what ended up happening.
She prefers not to wear gloves while working in the shop. She likes the feel of the nuts and bolts. To help keep her hands clean she hand washes all her dishes and uses a pumice stone. When Colleen was getting married, her Mom was worried about her hands but they cleaned up perfectly by soaking in salt water beforehand.
Colleen’s advice to females wanting to get into the trade: “Do it, don’t be shy. It’s consistent work, a good salary and tons of variety.”