Marine engine mechanic Sandy Brenner takes all her work out for sea trials.

Marine engine repair
nets satisfied patrons

I've always been a mechanic. My dad was a mechanic. He and his friends were fishermen. I worked on boat engines the whole time I was growing up.

I was a diesel mechanic in the military and did that commercially after I retired from the service.

Sandy Brenner

Company: Central Marine Center

Job: Marine engine repair

Years in business: 5

Motivation: "The excitement of seeing a client's face keeps me going. They can go fishing now, their boat runs well again."

When I got back to Hawaii in 1990, I decided that was enough of working for other people.

I opened a marine business partly because there's not much competition. With diesel engine repair, there are more shops doing it. Besides, I like to fish.

Lola Hass, my sister-in-law, is my business partner in Central Marine Center. The business is about five years old.

I needed somebody I could trust, and she's good at money. It's a good balance. I'm the real gutsy go-for-it person, and she's the conservative.

Engine repair is not a common profession for women. I think I've met about five or six in my whole life.

I've always gotten resistance in my career. But the minute I open my mouth, customers pretty much calm down. I'm very technically proficient, I guess you could say. They realize I know what they're talking about.

We make an extra effort to check our work because operator safety has always been a concern for me. Even when I was a diesel mechanic, you've got to think about the guy driving the truck. You don't want him to get stuck somewhere. But on boats you don't have a tow truck. Nobody's going to go out and rescue guys in 10 minutes if they get stuck. So we do sea trials on our engines. Its something that's not been done before.

When you take your car to be repaired, you pay your bill and you drive home. If there's something wrong, you find it on the way home. Now you're upset. You just had this thing fixed and it's not working, you've got to go back, you've got to take more time off work, find a way to get around, it's a pain. It's an experience that I don't want the people we do business with to go through.

I've already retired twice. We figured we'll do this until I don't enjoy it any more.

But I started wrenching professionally when I was 15. It's been almost 32 years, so I guess I'm not tired of it.

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