Arizona shop leading way for women in auto body field

Arizona shop leading way for women in auto body field

Xtreme Auto Works is a booming woman-owned business

A lot of automotive repair shops are what you call a mom and pop business, but one shop in Arizona is a bit more mom than it is pop.

Donielle Lopez is the majority owner of Xtreme Auto Works, located near Arizona and Warner roads in Chandler.

Lopez came to the autobody business from the world of business development and sales. She met her life and business partner, Chris Donno, and left the corporate world to take a leap of faith.

“Chris is my future and we have a shared dream,” she said. “When he asked me to become part of [Xtreme], it was about what we can create as a couple.”

She became the majority owner in December, when the shop filed to become a limited liability company. Donno has a 49 percent stake in the auto body, paint and restoration business.

Two cars awaiting restoration sit outside Xtreme Auto Works. The truck in the middle is used as a driver by shop employees. | ClassicCars.com Journal Photo

Lopez said the shop has seen a big jump since the LLC paperwork was filed. She credited that to a business focused on integrity, quality and results.

“Our customers mean everything,” she said, adding that most find out about the shop through word of mouth instead of advertising.

The family feel of the shop may also be contributing to the uptick in business.

Xtreme only has five employees, including Donno, who is the shop’s primary painter. He has been in the auto body business for 25 years and is very proud of the progress the business has made since Lopez came on board. Donno’s son, Anthony, also builds his own projects in the garage.

Donielle Lopez sits on a bench with Chris Donno that his son, Anthony, designed | ClassicCars.com Journal Photo

The shop itself is welcoming. The spotless work area includes a paint shed and room to work on multiple cars, such as two classic Chevrolet pickups that were on the floor. The walls are adorned with various pieces of automobile parts, including the back end of a Corvette.

“We want to be that old-school garage feel where people come and want to stay and have a beer,” Lopez said.

An area of the shop where cars are restored. The “Undertaker” is a joke meant to signify how much work some of the vehicles need. | ClassicCars.com Journal Photo

But there are no plans to remain static. Lopez – a member of both the Chandler and Gilbert chambers of commerce, along with a few other networking groups – already has her eye on the future.

Lopez said innovative ideas will keep the shop growing.

“It’s about being optimistic and saying the opportunities are endless,” she said.

She wants to partner with similar shops to educate people, especially those who feel uncomfortable in body shops, such as teenagers and women. A move to a bigger space could also be in the cards.

Lopez and Donno plan to work in the shop for another five to 10 years, when they plan to buy a house and land – complete with a garage to work on hobby cars.

A project gone right: One of the couple’s hobby cars, a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am, is Chris Donno’s daily driver. | ClassicCars.com Journal Photo

The shop will likely be passed to an employee who already works at Xtreme.

But until then, Lopez will continue to make headways for women in the automotive industry.

“Don’t tell me that I can’t. I’ll show you each and every time I can.”

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