A violent jolt, the sickening crunch of buckling metal and a whole lot of stress usually precede anyone meeting Robyn Nienhaus professionally. She’s a trailblazing spraypainter, one of a growing number of women making inroads in the male-dominated automotive repair industry.
Four months ago, while completing the practical Work-Integrated Learning component of her Automotive Spraypainting course at False Bay TVET College, an acquaintance told Robyn that the Montague Gardens branch of Dals Auto Panel Centre was hiring. A company with 50 years’ experience in the industry, Dals also happens to be 51 percent black female-owned.
Robyn applied and was permanently employed in the panel shop division. She says the teasing and workshop shenanigans that go with being the youngest female in the panel shop do not faze her and she enjoys her job. Robyn especially relishes the look of disbelief she gets when a new client realises she’s the spraypainter.
Her daily work includes preparing cars for painting, mixing primers and colours and spraying applications. She says she is learning something new every day, gaining invaluable tips and tricks from her experienced colleagues to add to the solid theoretical grounding she got at College.
Her advice to women wanting to enter the industry is simply: “Just work hard and don’t let anyone get you down. As you know what you want out of it, it will be worth it.”
Robyn dreams of running her own company once she gains enough trade experience. Who knows, perhaps she’ll even start South Africa’s first all-female auto repair shop. Study Spray Painting