Truck equipment is traditionally a man’s world, but Tina Winston is forging a different path.
Tina Winston is the owner of Brown’s Valley Truck Equipment. She oversees six employees and credits her great problem-solving skills and being a ‘people person’ to her success as a female entrepreneur.
Winston, a Brescia graduate, never envisioned being a business owner, but knew she had to capitalize on the opportunity when the door opened to purchase Brown’s Valley.
“Buying the business really was a right time, right place thing,” she said. “I have worked for Brown’s Valley since 2006 and was already in a management position. The former owner, Jason [Frazier] had a few businesses that were hit hard during the recession, so I agreed to purchase Brown’s Valley from him.”
Brown’s Valley has been in business for over 45 years and specializes in truck accessories, agricultural repairs, bed liners and truck modifications.
Aside from engine and transmission work, Brown’s Valley can take care of it for their customers.
Winston says that being a business owner brings its challenges and being a female business owner provides even more unique hurdles.
“I think times have definitely changed and are more welcoming to businesses owned by women,” she said. “We can manage just as well, if not better than a man. I think women are more accustomed to juggling a few things at once.”
Winston said it has surprised some customers when they call and ask to speak to the owner and her voice answers the phone.
“I get that a lot. Especially with this type of business, a lot of people think they are going to be speaking to a man. For a long time we didn’t put it out there that our business was owned by a female. Sometimes I still have to go grab our manager Jessie and have him make the call back to some of our older customers because I think they will take the information better from a male. You do get a little stereotyping in that aspect,” Winston said.
Winston does recognize that while she’s a good manager and knows a great deal about the business, she still turns to her employees for some of the more detailed customer questions.
“I always say, they don’t let me play out in the shop very much. If you’re wanting a step-by-step on how to do something, I’m not going to be able to answer that. Growing up on our family farm, I definitely wasn’t just a steering wheel holder for my dad, but there are a lot of things mechanically that I don’t give advice on,” Winston said.
Winston’s favorite part of the job? Waking up knowing that each day is going to be unique.
“Every day is different. There are a lot of challenges in today’s society for business owners and things we have to work through every day. I’m answering phones, ordering parts, troubleshooting issues and talking with customers,” Winston said.
While they have their usual customer needs, Winston says she really enjoys the special custom projects customers request.
“We do some fun projects for the state fire association. We’ve built tree-trimming trucks out of Chicago. We build custom dog trailers. As our society changes, you have people that envision something, but they don’t have the resources to get it done. That’s where we come in with the technical knowledge to make it happen for them,” Winston said.