Pam Gatto

Company: Gatto’s Tires & Auto Service (Melbourne, seven locations)

Position: Owner

Background: “My daughter was three months old when my dad (Mike Gatto) asked me to help in the store for two weeks . . . . I wasn’t really planning to work outside the home.”  She has spent 36 years in the industry.

About being a woman in her industry: “Years ago, when it became obvious that I was stuck in the job for more than a couple of weeks, I’d be at the counter of the Melbourne store and men would come in and say, ‘Can I talk to someone who knows something?’ Well, I knew something, but didn’t say much.  I’d call a man.  Then I started to tell them, ‘Talk to me.  Let me have a look, and if we can’t come up with a solution, we’ll ask someone else.’  It worked.  They started to trust me.  And it used to be that when it came to tires and auto service, men made the decisions.  The women used to come in with notes from their husbands or dads.  Now women know what to do on their own and they’re really thirsty for knowledge.”

Advice to others who might follow in her footsteps: “Good business is not just about selling, it’s all about relationships.  Form good relationships and you’ll do good business.”