Truck drivers are surprised when they head into the parts department of the Freightliner dealership in Sparks, Nevada when they are in need of a specific part and feast their eyes on the only female Parts Specialist, Cambria Orr. But the surprise is not always one sided. Cambria is not new to the trucking industry or the mechanical side of it either, but the wise cracks and male chauvinistic customers even refuse to deal with her. My question to them would be, have you taken the time to think that just maybe Cambria Orr is qualified? I think not.
At a young age, Cambria thought she had her life completely planned out, right down to how many kids she would have, but little did she know that becoming a lawyer was not what her future would hold.
In High School, Cambria was registering for classes more in line with her childhood dream until one day she decided that since she was going to be heading off to college one day that she might need to know how to work on her own car in order to save on expenses. So with the encouragement of the shop teacher who saw great potential in Cambria, talked her into taking Auto Shop. This of course did not excite her mother or for that matter others in her family. Her mother and Grandmother both tried talking her out of auto mechanics thinking that this might be just a phase she was going through.
Cambria’s persistence was accepted in the Auto Shop class and found it quite enjoyable. She really fell in love with the mechanic profession when her shop teacher assigned her to help a fellow student rebuilding the engine on a Ford Mustang. At first she was reluctant to dive in, but her shop teacher had enough confidence in her for the both of them. It was then that Cambria found out that mechanics came naturally to her. In her junior year, she spoke to a recruiter for NTI, Nascar Technical Institute and felt that maybe, this just might be for her. So she went with her gut feeling and began researching the school. Cambria became a little disappointed when she discovered that there was a high teacher turnover rate at NTI.
Since the school was across the country in Mooresville, NC, Cambria knew she would have to leave her home town of Bishop, California. With her mind made up, she knew this was something she had to do.
Cambria took to her studies quite comfortably but not without struggles. She knew that she wanted to learn everything that was offered her and stayed focused to be the best she could be. A class was offered in Pit Crew training and having a love for fast cars; Cambria took on the challenge and enjoyed every minute of it. Learning can be hard enough, but to add fun to the mix, can only make your day.
When it came time for graduation, Cambria graduated 1st of her Class among all males . The experience was priceless and being accepted for her knowledge and not her gender was a great feeling.
After graduation, Cambria had several job offers, even though all were very entertaining, the one she chose, was a mechanics position for Duvall Ford in Jacksonville, Florida. She was hired because of her training and grade point average from NTI. During her 16 months of employment with Duvall, Cambria explained, she was teaching many of the male employees many of the techniques she learned at NTI. The only down fall with this job, was that each position was dedicated so trying to stay focused on only one type of repair did not suite her, Cambria said. The Service manager allowed her to bounce around to a few different positions, in which she found electrical to be one of her strengths. Although it did not come easy, while at NTI, Cambria worked very hard to understand how electricity worked, so much so that she graduated with an A. It wasn’t until she took the Advanced Electrical class that it all really clicked and troubleshooting electrical issues became a breeze.
While working for Duvall Ford, Cambria experienced the new production of the 5.4 cubic Inch engine which Ford Motor Company installed in the light to medium duty trucks; but it had a downfall, the head gasket. This was not an easy repair to complete when the head gasket would fail. Because of the way the engine sat in the engine compartment, in order to make this repair, the cab had to be pulled in order for the mechanic to access the parts that needed removing. One day, Cambria was assigned to replace the head gasket on a customer’s truck. Since it was taking longer than the customer was comfortable with he became quit agitated, so he showed up at the Service Center and demanded to get some items from his truck and clearly wanted to know what the holdup was and to speak with the male mechanic. The Female Service writer tried explaining to this customer what it took to do this type of repair without success. The Service Advisor then contacted the mechanic, Cambria, to see if she was ok with the customer coming down to get something out of the cab. Cambria stated, “Sure but the cab is in the air and if he wants to get up there, he’ll need a ladder”.
The Male customer arrived to Cambria’s work stall and took one look at her and said to the service advisor, well I see what the problem is. He then asked where his truck was, Cambria replied, “Right here and if you need something out of your cab, it’s up there”. The customer took one look at the truck, turned to Cambria and expressed. “well I see why it is taking so long, Have a nice day. I guess he was afraid of heights?
After working for Duvall Ford for 18 months, she was homesick. And it was really pulling at her heart strings. Since her brother was also in Florida for school and was graduating, they both decided it was time to head back West to Bishop, California on a road trip. Once back home to familiar ground, Cambria was able to land a good job at a small Transmission shop, Jim Allen’s Automatics where the owner did the rebuilding of the transmissions and Cambria would remove and re install them. The owner also had other interests which caused him not to stay completely focused on the repair business and because of it, there were many returns.
One day her younger sister, whom Cambria was not close with while growing up, convinced Cambria to leave Bishop, California and head East to Reno, Nevada. In Reno, Cambria and her sister became roommates for awhile. When Cambria arrived in Reno, she decided to take on a new adventure, a friend of hers new that Winkle Pontiac GMC was looking for a Medium Duty Diesel mechanic. The only problem was, Cambria had never worked on Diesels, but felt she was a quick learner and wanted the opportunity to give it a shot.
Cambria was hired but it was immediately known that she and the Service Manager were not on the same page. Cambria was taught to be proud and professional with her work, but it appeared that this Service Manager did not share the same vision. He would ask her to shot gun her work. Cambria refused causing conflict between her and her boss, which is never a good working relationship.
Cambria was not there to cause trouble or ask for special treatment, so she asked if she could be transferred to another position at Winkle’s front service facility. At first the Service Manager appeared to be understanding to the situation and informed her that since no positions were available at the time, when one came open he would give her the transfer. Positions opened and at no time was she ever offered a transfer. Cambria was beginning to see the writing on the wall. It was at this time she met her boyfriend, now Fiancé who was able to get her a spot in the front shop working with lube techs, which she ended up training because of her experience.
Not long after she had transferred, her wrist began to hurt. Cambria found out that she had developed a lot of scar tissue over the years working with her hands. This came as a blow to Cambria, she was determined to beat it. She went through intense therapy and finally returned to work with a wrist brace that hurt terribly, so Cambria decided to make her own that was more comfortable than the one the therapist had her pay for. After being back to work for only two weeks, the pain did not subside, so she had to make a tough decision and leave her job.
One day while out, she and her fiance decided to stop by an AutoZone Parts store, it was there where she saw that they were hiring for parts counter positions. This was not exactly her dream job, but it could pay the bills. Cambria knew that her days of turning a wrench professionally were over. This did not really suit her working on the Front Counter and was offered the position of Commercial Parts Manager, Cambria jumped at the chance. She appreciated the opportunity to work for AutoZone, but soon found herself needing to use more of her experiences and knowledge, so she began to submit job applications to companies looking for individuals with her experience. Her lucky day came when after submitting an application at Sierra Freightliner in Sparks, Nevada called her for an interview. The Parts Manager, Doran Clark, was impressed with her qualifications. Knowing that Cambria had some experience in Diesels, he was willing to take a gamble and give her a chance. Cambria knew without question that she would catch on quickly and embrace this challenge as she has with all others in her life.
I had the opportunity to speak with Doran about Cambria; I was pleased to see his expression of satisfaction on his face with her and her dedication to learning and giving Sierra Freightliner an honest day’s work and then some. Doran offered to me a story about a customer whom called him complaining about Cambria and that he, the customer, could not buy parts there because he had a woman at the counter. It was refreshing to me to hear what he expressed to the customer. “Well, I do not know what to offer you other than she is one of my counter specialists.” The customer was hoping to have her fired. Doran supported one of his team members and from experience through my roller coaster career, I can tell you, a boss like Doran is like a dream come true. Someone who believes in you, not because of your gender, but by your experience, dedication and willingness to be the best you can be.
So if you are in need of parts for your Heavy Duty Truck, give Cambria or any one of the talented parts specialists at Sierra Freightliner a call located in Sparks, Nevada.