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SEMA “She Is” Spotlight: Custom Painter and President of LGE-CTS Motorsports Theresa Contreras

By Ashley Reyes

Theresa ContrerasThe SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) named Theresa Contreras as this week’s #SheIsSEMA Spotlight Member. Contreras is the president of LGE-CTS Motorsports, where she specializes in custom design and paint for the company’s vehicle builds—many which have been featured in magazines and newspapers over the years. She is an active SEMA volunteer and has helped spearhead countless association projects and programs. The SBN is proud to recognize her for her untiring efforts.

SEMA: What is the most challenging part of running your business or job?

Theresa Contreras: Communication to me will always be one of the most challenging aspects of working with others, especially when they are your family, lol. But seriously, we all communicate differently, and understanding people’s personalities and how to work with each person will, to me, always be the biggest challenge for most of us.

SEMA: How many years have you been in the industry and what was your first industry job?

TC: I would consider this my first industry job, so 22 years at the family business. I started in the office as the secretary, taught myself how to paint, and have been painting for 20 years. The list of things I do here are graphic design, vehicle renderings, accounting and custom paint work.

LGE CTSSEMA: Being a woman in the industry, what have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments? Do you have a specific situation that comes to mind?

TC: My biggest accomplishment has been being part of the first all-female SEMA build through SBN. That build has helped break barriers in the industry. I have truly made some of my best friends through that build!  

Another big one is being one of PPG Industries Vibrance Collection Top Guns. This is such an honor to be listed there with other truly amazing painters that I look up to. I have always wanted to be the best at what I do, but I seriously taught myself in a paint booth, and I am humbled by this happening.

As for challenges, I have never seen myself as a “woman” trying to break through, but as just being the best at what I wanted to do. Did I get dismissed sometimes because I was a woman, or a newbie at what I did? Sure! That happened quite a lot. But I just wanted to be the best at what I did, and it’s all about earning respect. That will always come through, no matter your gender. My biggest challenge has been getting to where I wanted to be by showing what I can do.

SEMA: What is the best career advice you have received? How has this advice helped you either professionally or personally?

TC: “Sell Cool.” – Pete Chapouris. People will buy what you are selling if you think it’s cool, but you have to believe that, first and foremost. Then, it’s really not about selling, but about, well, being cool!

It’s definitely all about confidence. This advice has helped me both professionally and personally. It’s about believing in yourself because guess what… you’re cool!

SEMA: Who was the most influential person on your career/goals?

TC: Mike Spagnola—he is a “Super Connector!” He is truly that person who believes in everyone. He listens, and then connects people with others so that they can see their potential to grow. We did our first SEMA build together with LGE-CTS Motorsports and Street Scene Equipment in 2003. He really saw something in me to push me further than I ever saw myself going. And life is really about hanging out with people that you achieve to be like; I want to be like Mike!