Bernice Sanders first came to the automotive industry working at the National Hot Rod Association
in their Circulation Department and worked her way up through the
organization to become the advertising coordinator for NHRA’s weekly
publication National DRAGSTER. After three years at NHRA, she was
hired by SCORE International, the leading off road racing sanctioning body.
After being approached by Petersen Publishing, Bernice’s career took on a new direction – advertising sales. This has been her career pattern ever since working on magazines such as Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off-Road, Hot Rod, SEMA News, and now in her current position as Aftermarket Sales Director for Primedia’s Consumer Automotive Group her hours are spent working on Motor Trend, Automobile, Truck Trend, and Motor Trend Classic Magazines.
Bernice is currently on the SEMA Businesswomen’s Network as a select committee member and also serves on SEMA’s Scholarship Committee.
ASK PATTY: What are the challenges for you as a women working in the automotive industry?
Bernice: I have not really faced too many challenges during my career in the automotive industry. I was blessed to have some awesome mentors: Wally and Barbara Parks (NHRA), Sal Fish (SCORE International), Steve Rousseau and Lou Mohn (formerly of Primedia) all of whom were very instrumental in guiding me along my career path.
ASK PATTY: How did you get involved in the automotive industry? What was your start and why did you choose this industry?
Bernice: I more or less “fell” into this industry. My first job was with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) in their circulation department. I would also be the “fill in” person whenever one of the assistants in the company was out sick, and wound up working full time at National DRAGSTER as their advertising assistant. I went from NHRA (drag racing) to SCORE International (off road racing) to become the administrative assistant, then after 7 years with SCORE I went to Petersen Publishing where my career took a turn into advertising sales.
ASK PATTY: Can you tell me a little bit about your job as Aftermarket Sales Director with Primedia?
Bernice: My primary job responsibilities include selling aftermarket companies into Primedia’s Consumer Automotive Group (Motor Trend, Automobile, Truck Trend, and Motor Trend Classic magazines). I also oversee other sales reps who also sell within this group.
ASK PATTY: What advice can you give to women who might be interested in a career in the automotive aftermarket?
Bernice: Go for it! Even if you have to start at the bottom – set your goals, put 200% of yourself into your career path, and learn everything you can about the company you work for – this will make you a very valued employee.
ASK PATTY: In your capacity as Aftermarket Sales Director what if any changes have you noticed in how aftermarket products and services are being marketed to women consumers?
Bernice: I think women in general today have more knowledge about what aftermarket products that they want on their vehicles – whether its tires and wheels, car care, performance, or audio components. And because many of the aftermarket manufacturers have women in top management positions or are owned by women, their marketing efforts have definitely changed over the past 25+ years that I’ve been in the industry.
ASK PATTY: What if any are the big changes you are seeing today in how vehicles are being marketed to women?
Bernice: Auto manufacturers are definitely listening more to what women want. At first it was a few more vehicle color choices, but companies such as Volvo have held focus groups aiming towards marketing to women. They did this when they were coming out with their first SUV and a lot of ideas and criticism that this focus group had to say were put into place on that vehicle.
ASK PATTY: Tell me about your most recent personal experience buying a vehicle. What vehicle did you buy, and why did you buy it?
Bernice: I actually leased a 2006 Audi A4. My lease was up on my ’02 Audi, and when the dealer called me to see what I was going to do regarding turning in my ‘02, I told them I was switching to an Acura. The dealership told me they could put me into another A4 for a little less money then I had been paying, and the new vehicle would be an A4 2.0 turbo (my previous vehicle as an A4 Quattro). So I decided to go with the Audi. I was assured by the salesman that the only difference between my ’02 vehicle and my ’06 would be I was getting turbo instead of a Quattro, but the vehicle would have ALL the same features. Long story short, when I picked up the vehicle – it did not have the premium package (memory driver’s seat, power passenger seat, etc.) that was on my ’02 Audi. When I asked about this the salesman said “oh that’s extra and you wanted to keep the payments lower than what you were paying”. Never did I say that in any conversations we had – as a matter of fact I paid extra to get silver paint. I was furious and he knew it. He told me the deal was done. I then went home, called the manager of the dealership who took the side of his salesman. I called that manager’s manager, and again he told me “there’s nothing we can do.” I went over his head and told the next guy that I wasn’t even given the option to turn down paying extra for the premium package – I had been told ALL the options on my ’02 were included on my ‘06”, and again they wouldn’t do anything about it. You can rest assured, when this lease is up, I will not be going back to Audi.
ASK PATTY: What is some good advice you would give women before they buy a new vehicle?
Bernice: Do your research first. Read Motor Trend and Automobile magazines to see what editors think of the vehicle you plan to purchase/lease. Also go online to sites such as Intellichoice and ASKPATTY.COM. Check out different dealerships for the best deal – DO NOT go with the first dealership. Also know that dealerships like to get rid of inventory at the end of the month, so sometimes you can get a better deal. And, most importantly, make sure everything you want is on the vehicle before driving it out of the dealership.