NORWALK, Conn. – Like many women, Norwalk’s Maryann Croce manages the work-family balance the best that she possibly can. What makes Croce different is she does it at Croce Transmission Specialists with her husband, Tony.
The husband-and-wife team opened the shop at 301 Main Ave. in 1999 and have seen their business thrive. Tony has been servicing automobiles for nearly 40 years. Maryann had a career in banking before taking time off and working part-time when she had children. Her business expertise has been a perfect complement to her husband’s mechanical skills.
“I think the biggest jump for me was juggling it all,’’ Maryann said. “Like a lot of working moms, it was hard trying to do it all. One thing that really helped was joining the Car Care Council Women’s Board. It taught us how to become more involved in the community and learn about the needs of the community. We’re happy and proud to be part of Norwalk.”
Led by Croce’s business acumen, the shop is now a vibrant part of the Norwalk business landscape. It was the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year in 2011, and won a consumer education award from the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut in 2010. One of Croce’s chief objectives in handling the marketing for the business was to improve the professionalism in the industry.
Being part of the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce and the Automatic Transmission Rebuilder Association have played a large part in her company’s growth, she said.
“I think we raised the bar, and we’re continuing to do it,’’ she said. “We’re doing it on the technical side with our technicians. The issues are very complex. Continued training is very important, and our technicians like that. On the business side, we understand that you have to listen to your customers. They’ve gotten very tech savvy. We let them know exactly what is happening, and we constantly offer new services.”
Maryann’s other prominent role with the business is education. She encourages young men and women to consider a career in the automotive field. She visits colleges and schools to help students make informed choices about prospects in the industry. She lets young women know that the automotive field is not just for young men.
“I think it’s different when you hear from an actual shop owner,’’ Maryann said. “It lets them know what we’re looking for in an employee. I made a presentation at a career night, and it was well received. We encourage students to consider it, and there are scholarships available. It’s a good way to encourage people in the community who are considering it as a career.”
Maryann said working alongside her spouse took some adjusting for both of them. She and Tony have navigated through that dynamic, and they maintain their focus on the business while handling much different roles. Maryann says her work is not dissimilar to her earlier banking career.
“It sounds they’re different fields, but when I was in banking it was about service and education,’’ she said. “You were talking with each person as an individual. This isn’t much different. You’re helping them with their needs. You’re giving them the facts, and all the information they need to make the best decisions.”
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