SEBASTOPOL – Tiffany Woods didn’t start her career at Western Auto Body because she grew up fascinated by cars and wanted to learn the intricacies of their mechanics. Instead, her job started as many jobs do: a way to earn some extra money while attending high school. But as time went on, Tiffany realized the skills and knowledge she was acquiring were adding up to more than just an after-school activity, and she resolved to make a permanent residence in the auto body industry.
“When I was 16, my friend’s mom had the position I currently have, and she mentioned they needed somebody to answer phones a couple hours a day, so I started coming in after school,” she remembers. “That summer, I switched to full-time and started learning a bit about bookkeeping and doing payroll. After I graduated high school, I started learning how to write estimates. Thirteen years later, here I am! I do the production management, meet with the guys every morning and tell them what to do, deal with insurance companies and handle all the business stuff. Through the years I’ve gone through technical training for estimating and marketing, but I learned the business through hands-on experience.”
A native of Sebastopol (she grew up about a mile and a half away from the Western Auto Body shop), Tiffany says her favorite part about living in the Bay Area is the temperate weather and proximity to both the mountains and the ocean. “I think the mild seasons around here make people nicer and more environmentally aware, which I like. I try to have a really healthy lifestyle with my husband—we’re always doing outdoor activities like hiking, biking and tennis, and there are a lot of great places to do those things in the Bay Area.”
Tiffany’s positive attitude toward her hometown is indicative of her overall approach to her life and career. “I believe that if you’re negative all the time, you’re going to draw in negative energy and have bad things happen to you,” she says. “On the other hand, if you have a positive outlook and think good things about people and things and yourself, it’ll keep pushing you forward.” Applied to the auto body business, Tiffany says this outlook gives her a better understanding of how to handle potentially volatile situations with people who have just had their cars damaged in accidents. “I try to point out the good things and focus on the bright side of the situation. A car accident isn’t the end of the world if you get out of it safely.”
Tiffany has created a peaceful life in the place where she was born, and along with her husband and stepdaughter, she looks forward to spending the rest of her days in the Bay Area. But when asked what she would do if she could retire tomorrow, she doesn’t hesitate to branch out. “I would travel the world,” she laughs. “I’ve traveled to a few countries since I’ve been with my husband and I just love it. There’s so much out there in the world. I do want to retire in Sonoma County and have a house here, but I also want to experience other parts of the world before that happens.”