JoAnn Bortles, SBN Member of the Month, December 2009

JoAnn Bortles, SEMA SBN Member of the Month, December 2009Name: JoAnn Bortles
Title: Owner
Company: Crazy Horse Custom Paint
Address: 4411 Daniel Dr. Waxhaw, NC 28173
Phone: 704-843-3780

Years of employment with current company?

Years spent working in the automotive aftermarket?

How did you first begin to work in the automotive aftermarket?
My father had a little auto parts business. I started driving a truck for him when I was 16 years old. Around that time I started welding and repairing car parts for guys in my high school. I was an art major but I was a gearhead at heart. My first car was a '69 Mustang and at one time when I was in my 20's I owned a Mustang shop and had about 20 Mustangs. But it was when I was 19 years old, I started custom painting cars and motorcycles and that is the business I continue today. Along the way I have held a number of jobs in the industry, quality control inspector, machinist, research and development technician, working with companies like Moroso Performance Products and Standyne Deisel Systems. And I am a certified welder. Back in the 70's and 80's not many women held jobs in those fields. It was quite an experience going into a company and being the first woman doing a job, that none of the men there, had ever seen before. It meant I had to be very good at any job I did.  

Did you have a mentor in the industry?  

If yes, and you’re comfortable sharing, who?
I never had an actual mentor but I was inspired. Back then the only women you heard about involved in the automotive world were race car drivers. Shirley Muldowney, Lyn St James, Janet Guthrie were women I looked up to. I was very motivated by seeing them accomplish so much.

What is the most satisfying aspect about your work?
There are a few very satisfying aspects of my work. One is seeing my customers happy and proud of the work my company has done for them. The other is seeing the way people are inspired by my work.

What are your major professional accomplishments, memberships, areas of service?
After so many years of learning very hard lessons in this industry, it is very gratifiying to be able to pass them on. In 2003 I had the opportunity to do so and accomplish one of my dreams. I was given the chance to work with Motorbooks Publishing and write my first book, "How to Custom Paint Your Car." I had always dreamed of being a writer. Since then I have had 6 books published, the latest being, "Advanced Airbrush techniques," and two of my books have been translated into Japanese.

In 2007 I was very proud to have myself and my work featured in Southern Living magazine. It was first time in the history of this lifestyle and design magazine, that they featured an individual who worked in the custom automotive and motorcycle industry. And also in 2007 NBC News came to my shop and filmed. This piece was shown on NBC's Today Show in July 2007 and can still be seen on MSNBC's Video website.

Another proud goal was having a car my company painted win one of PPG's 2006 Top 5 Most Outstanding Paint awards, appearing in their Vibrance product advertising in 2006. Our work has won a number of awards over the years including winning several championships.

I also work as a photo-journalist for some of the leading motorcycle magazines such as American Iron, which is the number one selling motorcycle magazine in the world. I am currently testing riding gear for Harley Davidson Motor Company, which will be a series of articles for Cycle Source magazine. And I enjoy interviewing other people in the industry and recently interviewed Kris Krome, winner of the AMD Metric Motorcycle World Championship, for Cycle Source.

It is very gratifying using my work to give back to the community and in 2006 and 2007 I was able to be a part of team of women called the Chopper Chick Crew. We did live onstage motorcycle builds for Charities such as the Breast Cancer Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, and the RAACE Foundation. On July 17, 2007 we assembled a custom motorcycle live on the Today Show in Rockefeller Plaza in NYC. I have also contributed projects to help Children’s Care Facility of Rapid City, SD. It is very inspiring seeing my work on these amazing charity projects that do so much good.

Another lifelong goal was accomplished in 2004 when my own personal custom motorcycle was featured on the cover of Easyriders magazine, making me the first woman whose own motorcycle was on the cover in the history of this 38 yr old magazine.

(Optional) Personal information regarding marriage, children, interests:
I am a very happy godmother to 2 amazing boys Chase and Cole. My boyfriend David has two sons and a grandson, so I love being Grandma Jo to our little Preston. David works with me at Crazy Horse and his support in my business has helped my company accomplish many goals over the last year. David and I have a place at Lake Norman and I enjoy being out on the lake, rowing and kayaking. In my downtime I like to cook, mountain bike, and take motorcyle trips.