How One Woman Broke Into the Auto-Supply Industry

MIDLOTHIAN, Ill. ( TheStreet) -- Barbara Moran-Goodrich, CEO of Moran Family of Brands , grew up in the transmission business founded by her father. But that connection wasn't always helpful.

Moran Industries was launched more than three decades ago by her father, Dennis. The company is part of the $300 billion aftermarket-supply industry and comprises six brands: Alta Mere, Dr. Nick's Transmissions, SmartView Window Solutions, Mr. Transmission, Multistate Transmissions and Milex Complete Auto Care. There are 140 franchised units across the U.S.

Moran started working there as a teenager as she went to art school and soon found that she enjoyed her job despite the male-dominated industry, and quickly moved to positions of greater responsibility.

Even though her father increasingly relied on her skills (she helped him move the business into franchising by acquiring troubled companies to bring under the Moran umbrella), Moran always worked under a cloud: Her father made it clear that she would never be in an executive position at the company.

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When she was pregnant with her first child in the late 1980s, her father even went so far as to fire her so that she could stay home with the baby.

That did not deter Moran. She went to work in government for the first female state representative in Illinois, Jane Barnes. Later, as she was looking to start her own business, fate stepped in the way. After Moran herself went through cancer, her father ended up having a quadruple bypass and a stroke in 1998. Her father sent her on a mission to find someone to run the company for them since it was clear he would not be able to return to work in the same capacity.

They hired consultants to help choose someone and, after three days, the consulting group decided it was she who should run the company. Her father finally agreed.

Shortly after she moved into the president position, she went to work on new initiatives that would be more family-friendly. Two years ago, she bought out her parents' positions in the company. Moran renamed the company Moran Family of Brands and has started to put initiatives in place to draw more female and younger customers.

Stores will go through the training in order to better understand how women view car repairs and how to help educate women on cars. The company will be offering classes to teach customers basic car repair and maintenance, she says.

"We're very focused on family, women, children and educating them on their vehicles," Moran says.

Moran, who just remarried in March, has five teenagers.

October is National Women's in Small Business Month. As the small business community celebrates, a conversation with how Moran made her mark follows: