When Monica Fernandez-Guerrero’s hands you her business card, you’ll probably notice that there’s something missing…her name. No, it wasn’t an oversight; it was intentional because she doesn’t want to turn away potential customers. Monica and her business partner, Beth Garman, own MarrowStone Truck & Trailer Shop in Denton, Texas.
Monica is quick to point out that as women, their biggest challenge is in establishing their credibility, “Every time I am working on a truck, I have to complete an interview with the driver,” she said. “I have to enumerate all my accomplishments, my work experience and my validity as a mechanic,” she added.
Both Monica and Beth are senior mechanics and have graduated from accredited heavy truck and diesel engine programs. Monica is currently working on her Master’s certification for ASE. The formal education provided a solid foundation in understanding engines, but the real training, according to Monica, starts “when you’re on the floor busting your knuckles and getting yelled at by a senior mechanic.”
It’s pretty rare to find a woman in coveralls working under the cab of a tractor, but it’s even more rare to find one (or two) who own their own shop! According to the US Census Bureau’s 2008 data, there are 217,000 heavy vehicle service technicians, and only 1.1 percent (2,387) are women.
MarrowStone Truck & Trailer Shop is a full service tractor and trailer repair shop and is located just off 35N at exit 469 in Denton, Texas. They are willing to mentor any women interested in working as heavy truck mechanics and hope to expand their operations soon. They recently became corporate members of Women In Trucking and will offer any members a ten percent discount on services in the shop. They are open 7 am to midnight weekdays and 7 am to 6 pm on Saturdays.
Monica first became interested in becoming a technician as a young girl. Her older brother, Hector, was a professional driver who encouraged his younger sister to think about a career in heavy-duty engine repair. Her mother, who Monica describes as a “forward thinking, capable and independent woman,” told Monica that she could do whatever she wanted to do as long as she worked hard enough.
Although entering a predominantly male occupation was “terrifying,” Monica was determined to succeed. She admits that she was totally intimidated, but she followed her mother’s advice and worked hard and focused on her training to gain the knowledge needed to succeed in heavy truck and engine repair. “I started doing what I really loved to do,” she said, “now I am here, on the other side with no excuses and lots of scars.” She added, “I’m happy and all my joints hurt!”
Monica’s hope is that she and Beth are leading the way for other women who wish to follow their career path. Her daughters, Amanda (11) and Alondra (9) hope to work with their mom, but only until they leave for college. The girls’ aspirations are more in the area of veterinary medicine right now. However, Alondra has recently considered becoming a professional driver after attending a truck show in Dallas.
Beth is not only Monica’s business partner, but also her best friend. “I would not have started MarrowStone without her,” she said. “She is a rare special person, all heart, great strength and a great mechanic,” Monica added, “I don’t know how she puts up with me.”
Monica’s husband of 14 years, Cesar Guerrero, works as a network administrator and is not interested in mechanics. He does help out at the shop when needed, but his biggest role is in supporting Monica and Beth in their endeavor. He encouraged them to follow their dream to open the shop, and he keeps them grounded even as he reminds them to stay within their tool budget!
Beth and Monica are role models for all of us in the trucking industry. The years of training in the shop have made them both eager to help others who wish to follow them. Sure, they’ve endured some unwarranted negative attention along the way, but the environment is changing. Some day women who choose a career in heavy-duty truck repair will be more likely to include their names on their business cards!