Marie Zukemura joined the Jiffy Lube chain three years ago and quickly became one of its assistant managers. At University Jiffy Lube in Moiliili on Wednesday, Zukemura drained oil from a car as part of the vehicle-maintenance procedures the company offers.

Ready to serve

Marie Zukemura and her colleagues
take care of their customers in a jiffy

Marie Zukemura

Title: Assistant manager, Jiffy Lube, University

Job: Supervise the service crews and handle customer relations

Soon after high school, Marie Zukemura came to a crossroads in her life. The choices as she saw them were to either go on to college or join the military. She chose the military, and five years later she had traveled the world and gained a valuable skill. Now the 25-year-old McKinley High School graduate is the youngest assistant manager at Jiffy Lube in Hawaii, supervising the servicing teams and even working on cars herself at the chain's University outlet in Moiliili. Zukemura, sometimes called "Zuke" by her work mates, is single and lives with a friend in Kapahulu.

Question: A woman I know who saw you working said she was a little surprised because she doesn't usually associate women with working on cars. Do people ever say stuff like that to you?

Answer: Oh yeah. It's a constant. It's like, "Oh, what made you decide to work on cars?" That type of thing. They're always in awe that women are working on cars, because there's not that many of us working at Jiffy Lube.

Q: Well how many women are there working at Jiffy Lube?

A: There's myself and two other girls at the University one. There's none at Windward, there's one at King/Dillingham, and there's two at Punchbowl. And there's like one or two at Pearl Kai, but they're cashiers. They don't really work the floor. They don't work with cars.

Q: Just how much working on cars do you do?

A: Before when I was working on the floor, before I was assistant manager, I was a lower bay technician, going underneath the cars and draining the oil.

And then when I was an upper bay technician, I was going down a check list. It's all computerized and really simple. You just go down the check list and make sure all the fluids are full, you report any unusual conditions, you fill the oil, make sure everything's done correctly.

When you're the upper bay technician, you're in charge of the lower bay technicians. You say, "You do this" and "You do that," and you make sure the job is done right. It's all little teams of about four or five people, all day, every day.

Q: That's like teams working on the cars?

A: Yeah. Jiffy Lube tries to make everyone work like a team because that's how we get the cars in and out so fast.

Q: How long have you been at Jiffy Lube?

A: This November will make three years.

Q: How long have you been assistant manager?

A: Almost two years now.

As assistant manager of the University Jiffy Lube, Marie Zukemura supervises the teams of workers who perform basic maintenance service on vehicles. The former soldier said she is happiest when her crew, behind her, gets praised by a customer.

Q: So who's the manager?

A: Clete Fujita.

Q: Is that a man or a woman?

A: That's a man. It's very male-dominated. There's actually only one female manager, and she works at the Punchbowl shop.

Q: What's her name?

A: Paula Kusakabe. I was  actually one of her workers.

Q: Is that where you started (the Punchbowl shop)?

A: No, actually I started at University. And I pretty much did everything there, because I already had prior mechanical experience.

Q: Like what?

A: I was in the military (the Army) for five years. I was a heavy-wheel vehicle mechanic. I worked on the big, big trucks, and tanks, and whatever rolled around. (Laughter)

When I came home, I had just gotten out of the service and didn't really know what to do. My dad said I could go back to school, but I was never really very good at school, so my dad, he said I could work at Jiffy Lube, that kind of stuff. That was actually the first job I applied for when I got home and I got hired on the spot.

Q: Where were you stationed in the Army?

A: In Germany. Mannheim, Germany. Traveled the world. (Laughter)

Q: Did you go into the Army right after high school?

A: Yes, right out of high school.

Q: Who encouraged you to do that?

A: I guess it was either I go to college or go into the military. I didn't have the best grades in high school, so I opted to go into the military. I wasn't doing anything, so I decided to do something constructive, do something for my country.

Q: At the University Jiffy Lube, are there any other assistant managers?

A: I'm the only assistant manager. There's only one assistant manager and manager at each shop.

Q: What are your basic job responsibilities?

A: Pretty much making sure the workers are doing what they're supposed to be doing. Consult with them about their gripes, look out for their general welfare. Also make sure the cars are getting out on time; if there are any problems, solve those problems.

Q: What would be a typical problem?

A: If something breaks on the vehicle while we're doing any services.

Q: What do you do when that happens?

A: Try to fix it? (Laughter.) If we can't fix it, take it to the people that can fix it. If we do anything we are at fault at, we do what we can to make the customer happy.

Q: How many cars do you work on a day, approximately?

A: We're in the hundreds.

Q: How many people work at the University outlet?

A: Right now about 17.

Q: So what are your plans for the future at Jiffy Lube?

A: I'm not really sure about what I want to do in life. I'm still trying to figure that out.

The thing about Jiffy Lube is that it's not about money. It's pretty much like a family.

We are a team, we are working together, and that's the reason a lot of people stay at Jiffy Lube.

That's the reason I've stayed. I like my bosses. I like my workers. So that is what really drives people to stay at Jiffy Lube.

But we always say Jiffy Lube is a stepping stone to bigger and better things, so if something came along, I wouldn't be afraid to jump at it.

But it really is like a family at Jiffy Lube. They really do take care of us.

"Hawaii at Work" features people telling us what they do for a living. Send suggestions to mcoleman@starbulletin.com

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