Modern day Rosie the Riveter excels in repairs |

Modern day Rosie the Riveter excels in repairs

Local appliance repairwoman Kara Hale (right) and husband Aaron display their Rosie the Riveter logo. You may also have seen their van with the same emblem motoring around town.
Photo by Laura Mahaffy

Kara Hale may still get a few surprised faces when she’s out on service calls, but they’re far outweighed by the friendships and memories she’s made.

Hale launched Hale Appliance Services in 2013 and while it may have typically been a man’s industry, nothing has stood in her way of success.

The company took off rapidly. She brought on her husband after being open for just a year. They now handle up to 40 calls a day and twice that on Mondays. They have two vans adorned with Rosie the Riveter, which has been Hale’s de facto logo since she took her first call. When her husband Aaron made the leap to leave Sears (where they both previously worked) and join her, Kara informed him that Rosie would stay. He replied that he’d rather work for Rosie than Sears.

While Rosie the Riveter is best known for her recruitment role during World War II, her prototype was first featured on an in-house poster for Westinghouse Electric Corporation, under the headline “We Can Do It.” It’s a motto and philosophy that has driven Hale. She admits she still gets some looks when she comes to repair washers and dryers; usually the man of the house will try to be on hand to assist with any lifting (a courtesy Aaron never receives).

“They try to make it easier on the woman who’s coming to look at it,” Kara said. “I do this job because I can.”

Kara’s affinity for mechanics began when she bought her first car, a Dodge Demon. A friend showed her how to make the necessary repairs. Years later (after an unsuccessful stint in beauty school), while working in retail management, she was having her refrigerator repaired and thought, “I can do that.” After learning there was only one woman in the Northern California unit, she applied for a job and was hired immediately. Now she’s nearing two decades in the appliance repair and refurbishing business.

While she loves the physical and mental aspects of her job, she says that her favorite part is the people. She maintained strong relationships from her mentor at Sears, as well as her tech manager, who originally who hired her. Kara also appreciates the interactions and experiences with her customers, like the World War II vet she cried with. She also hears many stories that parallel with her life.

“Typically when I leave a house, it’s ending in a hug. To me people aren’t customers; they’re my neighbors. That’s how our community is.”

Kara is so open with her clients she often talks herself out of business, telling people over the phone how to remedy the issue on their own. She finds this happens most often with women.

“They call and say I did this, this and this,” she said, “and then I guide them through the rest.”

Despite her success and love for her job, Kara will be taking a step back from the front line. They’ll be opening a parts store this spring, a resource she says the community is lacking. She looks forward to running the business from a location on Whispering Pines Lane, which will be open to the public.

Katrina Paz is a freelance writer and a resident of Grass Valley.

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