By Ashley Reyes
The SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) named Melanie White as this week’s #SheIsSEMA Spotlight Member. White is the CEO and owner of Hellwig Products, a manufacturer of load-control and sway-control solutions for trucks, RVs, musclecars, classic cars and fleet vehicles.
Get to know White in her interview with SEMA below:
SEMA: How many years have you been with your current company, and what do you enjoy most about working there?
Melanie White: I have been at Hellwig for now 16 years. I love the team most of all!
SEMA: What is most challenging part of running your business or job?
MW: It’s dynamic, things are always changing, and there is always something new to learn (but it’s also what I love).
SEMA: How many years have you been in the industry, and what was your first industry job?
MW: I entered in the industry at Hellwig, but I first started cold calling for the company. That was a great way to get started.
SEMA: What are three qualities that got you to where you are today?
MW: If I had to pick just three qualities, I’d say focus, determination and vision.
SEMA: Being a woman in the industry, what have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments?
MW: I’ve definitely had challenges, but my biggest accomplishment was being able to flip the script from seeing them as challenges. They also were opportunities.
SEMA: Who are your role models or mentors in the industry? How have they helped you along the way?
MW: I’ve had so many! Anne Johnson was my mentor and she gave me so much. Luanne Brown always challenged me to do more. Rose Kawasaki has always cheered me on, and there are so many more! I also should give credit to my male mentors: George Lathouris, Rich Barsamian, Kelly Kneifl, Joel Ayers, Mike Spagnola, again, there are just too many to name! This industry is full of generous people willing to mentor.
SEMA: What is the best career advice you have received?
MW: Don’t focus on being female; the only thing going against you is your age—so be the most prepared.
SEMA: Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry? What keeps you here?
MW: No, I ended up here because I wanted to get into sales. I’m sure glad I did!
SEMA: Who was the most influential person on your career/goals?
MW: My grandpa and my dad. I wouldn’t be in this industry without them. They have taught me a lot about hard work and taking care of our customers. I’m so grateful they kept the family business going and growing.
Do you know, or are you, a woman with a career in the automotive industry? Fill out a #SheIsSEMA spotlight form to submit a self-nomination or nominate a colleague and highlight how you or she is contributing to the specialty-equipment industry. Selected candidates are automatically eligible to be considered for SBN’s #SheIsSEMA Woman of the Year award, featured on SBN’s social media, SEMA News and recognized on the www.sema.org/she-is-sema website.