By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Emily Rademacher has always liked working on things. When that grew into an interest in car repair, she usually found herself the only female in the classroom.
“I’ve always liked taking stuff apart and putting it back together — seeing how it worked,” said Rademacher.
She took automotive classes at Melrose High School before graduating in 2009, and then looked for an automotive technical school program. She graduated from Central Lakes College (CLC) in Brainerd in July 2012.
About a month later, she was hired to join the team at Loven’s Auto Center in Swanville. Some of the reactions have been strange.
“People still walk in all the time and ask, “You’re going to work on my car…?” Rademacher said. “So I say, ‘Yeah — is that OK?”
Rademacher enjoys the challenge of complicated jobs, as well as working with the Loven family.
“They drive me crazy,” she said. “We pick on each other in good spirits.”
Rademacher has brought some new ideas to the shop. “I did get them to get a new tire machine,” she said.
“Then she had to teach us how to run it,” said a grinning Royal Loven, who owns the shop with his son, Jay.
Rademacher, who now lives in Little Falls, hopes to do vehicle repair all of her life. “I never thought of doing anything else,” she said. “There was no ‘plan B’ coming out of high school; this was my only option.”
She started at St. Cloud Technical College because it had a larger program, but realized it didn’t have a lot of instructors. When she transferred to CLC, most of her credits transferred too.
Shortly after graduating in July 2012, she spotted an ad online looking for a mechanic in Swanville.
Loven’s Auto is the gathering spot for a group of local men, retired schoolteachers, who come in to talk and gossip every morning, said Royal.
“One morning, this young lady comes in, and I never dreamed she was an auto mechanic,” he said. “It caught me off guard — she was not at all what I expected.”
Royal asked her some questions, which she answered to his satisfaction, but he knew Jay would need to talk with her, too.
Jay told his dad, “She seems to know her stuff; we’re going to have to give her a shot.”
“She’s kind of slight, so we gave her a 60-day trial because of some lifting and heavy work,” Royal said.
She very quickly fit right in and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“She comes in every morning and gets in on this session; she gets picked on terrible,” said Royal.
“I like to dish it out, too,” Rademacher said. “I don’t want them to change a thing.”
“We’re happy we’ve got her. Emily’s good at her job; knows what she’s doing,” Royal said. “She’s like a granddaughter — if she’s doing something strenuous I try to help her out.”
Having Rademacher at the shop has taken a load off Royal’s shoulders.
“I would like to slow down a bit, and it helps a lot,” he said.
“It’s nice for both of us,” said Jay. “He and I can take a little time off if we feel like it. She knows how to run the front, and she can turn a wrench.”
“She’s added a lot to the atmosphere; there was too much testosterone before she showed up,” said Royal. “We’ve had to clean it up a bit; that’s probably a good thing.”
Not that the Lovens had too far to go to clean things up. “We’ve had 10 ministers working here over the last 20 – 25 years. We hire them for as much time as they have to spare. Tim Sumner is working part time for us right now. We try to keep it clean,” Royal said with a smile.
The shop stays busy with steady traffic in and out.
“She stepped into a beehive,” Royal said, “and she handles it well.”