Meet Candy Meinke, one of our Best Parts at NAPA. Candy has been working at our Denver, Colorado NAPA store for 17 years. Most recently she was named 2015 Parts Specialist of the year which is a major accomplishment! She has had the tremendous opportunity to switch into many different careers while working at NAPA. Candy’s current role is working in the NAPA store designated phone room with a team of five taking care of over 150 incoming phone calls each day from NAPA Customers. We interviewed Candy about the last 17 years of her career and what advice she would give others who are interested in working at NAPA or educating others who perhaps never thought about a Career at NAPA.
What do you do in your current role with NAPA?
“My current role is Designated Phone room, but I still do Counter Sales as well. I have been in this role for 13 years after starting my career 17 years ago as a Cashier, eventually moving into Counter Sales. The phone room is responsible for taking phone calls from customers, answering their questions about car parts, special orders, inventory, invoices, and dealing with retail & wholesale accounts. I also still work at our Counter as well answering questions face to face from customers. It is a different experience answering calls over the phone with customers versus talking with them face to face. I enjoy doing both as they are equally important; However, it is sometimes a little more challenging to answer questions over the phone about parts as you can’t see and touch the part that the customer is describing, so you have to be able to really listen and understand what the customer is describing to you. It’s like a puzzle. You have to figure out ‘where does this go and how does this go?'”
Do you have to love cars and know everything about a car to work at NAPA?
“No, you do not. Of course it would be a major plus, but it is not a requirement to be successful at NAPA. Hands on experience is what taught me about parts. I did not go to school for automotive repair and I do not spend my leisure time with cars. My family did own a service station that used NAPA parts, so being exposed to cars and parts early on in my life did help me a lot, but the parts expertise that I have now came from having an open mind about learning. NAPA employees were so helpful to me when I started working. I was not afraid to ask questions and other employees were more than willing to teach me; I just had to be willing to learn and just realize that “hands on” would eventually help me with any learning curves I had with parts.”
“What makes me successful is that I love customers and giving outstanding customer service. That is what our customers expect from us and that is what I want to give every day, not just some days. You must be reliable, come to work each day, be able to multi task (we are a very fast paced company), be organized, and have great attention to detail. It sounds like a lot and it is. Not only do you have to have the NAPA KNOWHOW that our customers expect, you must care about the customers. They have choices so we must always stay consistent with our service. So if you have the parts expertise and want to work here, that is awesome, but you can also work here and be successful as long as you are willing to learn and love serving others. Sure, I could probably build a “small block” motor with my car parts knowledge. Would I? Probably not.”
Has it been challenging as a woman working at NAPA?
“Overall, not really. If customers know that you care or see that you aren’t afraid to ask them questions, they really don’t care who takes care of them as they just want the right part. There have been times when people have called and asked to speak to a man and of course that can be frustrating, but sometimes I am the only one available so I end up taking care of them. This results in the next time them calling in being more comfortable to talk to any of our NAPA phone room employees, man or woman.”
Do you have to have special certifications to work at NAPA?
“In my current role, you have to be ASE certified. I will be honest with you, it was a very tough certification to pass, but I passed it and I am very proud of this accomplishment. The role that I am in, you truly must know parts. You do not need to have this level of knowledge when you start your career with NAPA, but you can get there over time and NAPA will support you. NAPA offers so much training to their employees and really cares about you learning and serving the customers. That is what I love about NAPA, they do care about your career.”
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work at NAPA?
“First know that you do not have to have an automotive background or love cars. Yes, that would be a huge benefit for someone who does, but it’s not a requirement. We are looking for people who want to come to work every single day, be reliable, and be willing to learn. Know that there will be hard days, just like anywhere, but NAPA is a great company. You need to truly love customer service and be willing to do whatever it takes to please the customer. There are so many different jobs at NAPA. I think people who have never thought of applying at NAPA should.”
Finally, we asked Candy what she enjoys when she is not working at NAPA?
“I am a lover of life and my sweet dog Maizey who is a Boxer mix rescue. Maizey is getting older and has had a lot of health challenges, along with going blind recently. When I am not working at NAPA, I spend a lot of time truly just enjoying life and my sweet Maizey. Even though she is not in the best of health, there is never a day when she is not still excited about me coming home and still ready to go for a walk.”
Candy, thank you for taking the time to share your NAPA career journey and encouraging others to think about a career with us.
Want to learn more about the diverse careers at NAPA? Please browse our open positions and apply.