By Ashley Reyes
Love Lontoc, brand manager associate at KW automotive North America Inc., is this week’s SEMA Businesswomen’s Network (SBN) #SheIsSEMA spotlight member.
Get to know what Lontoc enjoys about the industry in her interview with SEMA below.
SEMA: What do you enjoy most about working at your current company?
Love Lontoc: I enjoy being around other car enthusiasts, working on a variety of projects and the freedom of creativity.
SEMA: What is the most challenging part of your job?
LL: In my new role as the brand manager associate, the most challenging part is communication. There are many channels and time zones that the brand management department has to keep in mind, and it is important that information is translated correctly to others.
SEMA: How many years have you been in the industry, and what was your first industry job?
LL: I started working in the industry in 2016 as a journeyman technician intern at Chevron. During my last college semester in 2019, I interned as a marketing assistant at KW automotive North America and have been here since!
SEMA: What are three qualities that got you to where you are today?
LL: Adaptability, integrity and dependability. I grew up as a Navy brat and had to move every few years, and that lifestyle helped me become comfortable with changes. I value integrity because “doing what is right even when no one is watching” is very important, and I strive to be dependable because I believe that is a key component to having a great team.
SEMA: Being a woman in the industry, what have been your biggest challenges and accomplishments?
LL: One of the biggest challenges is having to work much harder to show that I am capable of doing just as much as a male counterpart.
In the Automotive Technology Program, I was the only female during the first semester and one of two in the second. At first, I was intimidated by everyone and felt that no one would want to work with me. After a short period of time, I was able to prove that “I can do this,” and a lot of people were asking for my help. I ended up becoming one of two automotive tutors during the second semester.
Since then, I have been fortunate to meet people who want to help me grow in this industry and have given me the respect that is not given so easily to women in this industry. Thanks to the amazing support of my family and peers, people in the industry have learned that I am of great value and I'm able to help them.
SEMA: Who are your role models or mentors in the industry?
LL: In the beginning of my career, it was Mr. Guzman, Mr. Garza and Mr. Nelson from the Automotive Technology Program. There were times when I had one-on-one sessions with them to make sure I understood the material and was not getting overshadowed by other classmates. This is where I got my “push” to be in the industry, and without them I wouldn’t be in pursuing a career in automotive.
Currently, it would have to be my boss Kelleigh Ash and brand managers Frank Vasquez and Matt Behrnes. I appreciate how much they want me to succeed, and they challenge me with different projects that help me learn more about the industry and think about everything from different perspectives.
Ongoing, it’s all the women in the industry. It’s a great feeling to see them succeeding in a male-dominated field.
SEMA: What is the best career advice you have received?
LL: “It's not a race, it’s a marathon.” I have to remind myself that although healthy competition is okay and motivating, I have to take a step back and realize I am on my own path doing things on my own time. I will get there.
SEMA: Have you always wanted to work in the automotive industry?
LL: Honestly, no. If you had asked me years ago where I saw myself in five or 10 years, automotive was not one of the answers. I was curious about cars during high school because of all the movies featuring fast cars and whatnot. A few years after, a group of friends I had at the time were into cars, and I decided to take a few summer courses to understand what they were talking about. Turns out, I enjoy learning about cars and getting my hands dirty. In 2015, I decided to take the plunge and enroll in the Automotive Technology Program.
What keeps me in this industry is the camaraderie, seeing what builds are made and wondering what is the “next big thing.” It’s enjoyable to see how much passion people have for their vehicles. They appear to be on another level of happiness.
SEMA: Who was the most influential person on your career/goals?
LL: My parents. The amount of support, patience and guidance they have provided throughout my life does not go unappreciated.
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.