Charlie Van Cleve, 51
First automotive job: Sales Coordinator, Hedman Hedders
Proudest achievement: "It's twofold. In 1989, I received the Person of the Year award from the Performance Warehouse Association. At that time it was a huge honor because there weren't that many of us (women). That opened the door for me, brought positive attention to what I had been doing. Then, the crowning glory was when I was voted chairman of SEMA. Over the years, my peers have been mostly men. (These men) had a reputation for the 'good old boy' industry. It's those good old boys who elected me and put me in office. Being the first woman to chair the board of directors for SEMA is a huge accomplishment for our industry and for myself personally."
On being successful: "I'm overwhelmed by the amount of attention I've received these past few years. My success comes from honesty, follow-through - when I say I'll do something, I do it. I'm hardworking. If you want to be successful and a leader, you have to stick your neck out and go for it. You can't be afraid of success or failure. Being driven has contributed to where I am today."
On being a woman in the industry: "The support I received from the day I was hired to today is incredible. Without fail, there has always been someone there - usually a male - to help me succeed and give me any advice, input, whatever to help me to get where I am. I am proud of our industry, proud to be associated with it and to be a leader."
- Van Cleve is VP, Sales, Hedman Hedders and TD Performance, Cerritos, Calif.; she has been with Hedman since 1981.