“I would definitely say not to hold back. You never know how you are going to succeed in anything until you put yourself in it. Then it just depends on the amount of effort you put in from there on.” Amber Johnson, Service Advisor at Northtown Automotive in Yankton gives advice to other women who might be seeking a position in a job that might be considered non-traditional for women.

“Don’t let anything stop you,” adds Tracy Ogstad, Manager at Yankton’s Hedahl’s Auto Value.

Ogstad, with Hedahl’s for 24 years, started out as the in-house bookkeeper for L&L Motor Supply, the original store owners. Hedahl’s acquired the business in June 11,2017. She would help answer the phone and watch the counter sales people whenshe was caught up with her duties. When she showed interest to moving into counter sales, Jim Plavek, her boss at that time, was very supportive of her and encouraged her to make the transition.

Johnson has specialized in the customer service field for more than 14 years.

Though she had never worked in the automotive division, she applied for Northtown’s Service Advisor position after encouragement from her brother, a car enthusiast, and she has been there for more than two years. “I am thankful I turned in my application for many reasons,” she states.

Their jobs in the male-dominated automotive business may be viewed by many as non-traditional. When asked her thoughts on that, Johnson states, “I can understand where people would think that. Typically, you think of anything regarding automotives and garages as a guy’s field. However, we need to remember that females are generally able to bring a softer touch to these businesses. We need to find our strengths and focus on doing them to the best of our ability. Remember to not let others bring us down to their levels.”

Ogstad never considered that she might take on a job like this, but she enjoys it and is grateful for the opportunity that her position has brought her, appreciative of Hedahl’s helping her to further her knowledge of the automotive after market.

Both ladies spend most of their day fulfilling the needs of their customers, talking with them both on the phone and face-to-face. Well-prepared for each day, Ogstad arrives before the doors open for business to plan her day out. Johnson welcomes customers for their appointments and contacts the customer after the technicians have determined the cause of customer’s concern to discuss the issue and resolution. “Making sure the customers feel comfortable and entrusting us with their vehicle” is her primary goal.

Most rewarding for Ogstad is when she can help a customer retrieve a difficult to find part. “They really appreciate it when someone takes the time to help,” she explains.

Johnson adds that she enjoys it when customers walk away happy, as that is what she is there for. “When I first started I would really love when customers would stop me as they were leaving to say how thankful they were to see a woman in the Service Department. Seeing how happy they were just made me realize that even if I don’t know everything there is to know about automotives that I can still use my stronger skills to relate to customers.”

Johnson is excited about Northtown’s expansion, including upcoming changes for both customers and employees. She feels that the progression will allow them to better assist their customers. Both jobs, like any, come with challenges. Ogstad finds that sometimes it can be difficult to match paint for older cars and even some of the newer cars. Johnson’s challenges are more with learning the automotive field and not yet knowing all the answers. Though it’s sometimes challenging to understand an automotive process and then explain it to the customer, she finds her amazing team of co-workers extremely helpful and there for assistance when she needs it.

Johnson, a Yankton native and the youngest of seven children, has two older sisters and four older brothers. She and boyfriend Troy each have one son, Devon, age 10 and Lake, age 8. They are proud of the boys and she feels fortunate to have them in her life. She likes to spend time with her family, playing basketball or soccer or even snuggling up to watch a movie. They’ve been working hard on putting personal touches on their new house, learning decorative and landscaping techniques. She describes herself as a hard-working, empathetic and positive person.

The determined Johnson is considering whether to expand her family or her career, a difficult decision for any young woman. Though she’s always considered having more children, she absolutely loves her job and enjoys the opportunities that it has been bringing her way.

Ogstad and her husband Brian have one grown son, Gavin. She has lived in Crofton, NE most of her life and though she and Brian resided in Yankton for a short time after they married, they eventually settled back in the Crofton area. In her free time, she enjoys taking their 1966 Chevelle or 2012 Camaro out for road trips with her husband.

These two ladies have shown that there isn’t a profession out of reach for a female. Gender alone no longer dictates which career one should choose, women can bring many different skills and aspects to several non-traditional careers. Ogstad’s viewpoint on her career is quite simple, really. “If you are interested in what you do and enjoy the work, each day will be less like work and more like a hobby, but better.”