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Why You Should Support the Women’s Industry Network

Associations like WIN are essential to the collision repair industry to develop and connect the women we work with every day.


Kuczkowski has previously served on the editorial staff of Babcox Media’s Tire Review, ShopOwner and Tech Group publications, while finishing her degree multi-media journalism at Kent State University. Kuczkowski has a background in photography, videography and innovative digital content creation. Prior to joining the Babcox Media team, she also served as managing editor of Kent State's independent student newspaper, The Kent Stater.

MIW winners (left to right) Yen Hoang, CEO of UYL Color; Erica Schaefer, Mopar collision marketing manager for FCA; Kathy Mello, CEO of TGIF Body Shop; Judy Folk, collision repair design service manager for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes

She has designed collision repair facilities across the country; she founded a company with her family and grew it 900% as its CEO; she helped co-found the Women’s Industry Network (WIN); and she has been working to emphasize proper parts and the importance of OEM repair procedures in the industry. 

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Each of these accomplishments were achieved by one of the four recipients of this year’s Most Influential Women (MIW) awards presented by WIN at its annual educational conference. 

What’s WIN? WIN is a growing group of more than 500 members, both male and female, dedicated to attracting, developing and advancing women in the collision repair industry. This passion-filled non-profit organization is made up of everyone from shop owners to insurance adjusters. At this year’s conference, I had the opportunity to meet some of these trailblazers in the industry and hear about their different journeys.

From beautician-turned-welder to working up the ranks from office admin to shop general manager, everyone had a powerful and unique story about how they got involved in collision and why they’re still sticking around. And who better to showcase this success than the women who are making waves in the collision industry: the recipients of the MIW award.


The awards were originally established in 1999 by AkzoNobel. In 2013, WIN acquired stewardship of the program.

The honorees this year (pictured above from left to right) are:

  • Yen Hoang, CEO of UYL Color
  • Erica Schaefer, Mopar collision marketing manager for FCA
  • Kathy Mello, CEO of TGIF Body Shop
  • Judy Folk, collision repair design service manager for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes

It was both inspiring and empowering to see these women up on stage graciously accepting their awards in front of a packed ballroom of industry colleagues who gave each and every one of them a standing ovation. 


One of the many powerful phrases that resonated with me as a first-time attendee and woman in the audience was Yen’s closing line of her acceptance speech:

“Know your worth, be able to articulate it, and ask for it.” 

That is something every woman in the collision industry (or considering the profession) should hear. These women are the role models for the generation of women that will follow in their footsteps. And as a shop owner or manager, you should be their biggest rallying supporter.

Associations like WIN are essential to this industry to develop and connect the women we work with every day. But it’s also important that shops and other industry stakeholders support both men and women. Promote associations, continued learning and development in your shop and you’re bound to see great results. By recognizing the role women play in the industry, we can create a culture where everyone is pushed to reach their fullest potential.


So start that journey by supporting WIN, spreading the word and investing in all of your employees. B

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