Angela Pritchard Spiteri,
Vice president of operations, Pritchard Cos.
Joining the family business was always an option but never a mandate. So when Angela Pritchard Spiteri graduated from college, she went to work for an insurance brokerage firm in the Chicago area. An experience there swayed her decision to return to her family’s automotive business.
“I wanted to be a broker, but they had their token woman in that spot,” she said. “It was like, ‘Our spot is filled. You can be a secretary.’ So I saw growth and opportunity as a young woman in the family business more so than in the corporate world.”
From a great-grandmother who fought for women’s rights in Washington, D.C., in the early 1900s, to a grandmother who owned a women’s store, to her mom who has been “my dad’s right hand,” Spiteri intended to follow in the lineage of independent women. That was, in many respects, more important than following in the family’s automotive lineage, which has been intact since a great-great-grandfather started a Ford dealership in 1913.
With Pritchard Cos., she has done both.
In December 2007, she came home and returned to the company as its head of fleet operation. She has risen to become vice president of operations across a sprawling business that oversees six dealerships in northern Iowa selling 11 brands, plus commercial sales, shuttle buses, golf-cart sales and tow-truck equipment in several states. Based in Minneapolis, she works across the 107-year-old business, which employs approximately 200 people, and she’s excited to help position it for electric vehicles.
It’s a significant leap from her first job with the dealership group. When she was 16, her father, Joe, had her drive a parts truck for the summer.
“My dad said, ‘If you are ever going to come into the business, you have to have tough skin,’” Spiteri said. “Those parts guys could be a little rough. They had their own way of doing things. As a 16-year-old girl [driving] a parts van, I could hardly back that thing up. And they’d be like ‘Put it in this tight space here.’”
She came up through the commercial sales division, working in roles that prepared her for senior management. One consistent trait was her work ethic.
“That’s what allowed me to get to where I’m at today,” she said. “I worked from the ground up with every job, earning the respect of my peers along the way. You can’t buy your way in. You have to do the work, just like they did.”
When she takes a break from that work, she likes to travel with her husband, a retired jockey from Australia who works in real estate. They planned on celebrating their five-year anniversary in Italy, but the pandemic brought international travel to a halt.
Spiteri is glad she made the decision to join the family business.
“When you’re born into it, I don’t know if that’s the benefit or the dagger,” Spiteri said. “It depends on how you choose to deal with it.”
— Pete Bigelow