Mercury Marine has been a longtime partner with the Marine Mechanics Institute in Orlando to produce some of the finest marine mechanics in the world. One of those mechanics, Kaitlyn Schneider, has been thriving for the past two years at Lakeside Marina in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. While many of her friends took dance and gymnastics classes, Schneider was drawn to the garage, where she worked on cars and boats with her dad.
Joe Honsa, president of Lakeside Marina, says he’s been in the marine business for more than 30 years, and Schneider is the first woman to apply for the true technician position at his store.
“At times it’s intimidating in an all-male environment, working as their equal,” says Honsa. “I would put her up against any of my technicians on the jobs that she knows.”
Schneider explains: “When I got into high school, I decided to take small engines classes because I loved boats. While girls were taking economics and art, I was taking motor classes. I like engines and cars — not normal things for a girl.”
After graduating from MMI, Schneider moved back home to Wisconsin and went looking for her first job. Her résumé was turned down at various marinas in the area, but Lakeside took a chance on the rookie mechanic. And after two years, both Schneider and the dealer are thriving.
“She showed up one day and inquired if we were looking for a tech,” remembers Honsa of his first meeting with Schneider. “My first inclination was, ‘Who do you know?’”
Recalling the interview, Schneider says: “I went in and asked them if they were hiring, and the service manager gave me the, ‘Why, do you know someone?’ comment. I said, ‘No, I know me.”
She continues: “I still feel like I need to prove myself because I’ve only been here two years. I want to show that I’m still capable of doing this and won’t back down because it gets tiring or boring. It’s what I like to do, and I’ll keep doing it.”