Thousands of ladies in Trumbull are the boss

Doris Metzenroth recalls the time a customer questioned her wisdom, she believes, because she was a woman running a business in an industry traditionally dominated by men.

“He questioned my judgment on what he needed, what I thought he would want, and said he wanted to talk to the mechanic, who told him ‘if she said that’s what you need then that’s what you need,'” Metzenroth said with a slight chuckle.

Metzenroth has been the sole owner of Warren Harley Davidson Sales on Elm Road in Bazetta since her husband, William, died in 2005. The couple purchased the business together Aug. 1, 1969.

She continues to run the store with the help of her two daughters and two grandsons.

“It’s always been a family business and it still is, really,” she said. “I really can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Metzenroth can be counted among the 3,789 women business owners in Trumbull County identified by the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2007 Survey of Business Owners.

That data also shows there were some 5,652 women in Mahoning County, more than 700 in Warren and 1,305 in Youngstown who identified themselves as business owners.

Still, Ohio, at 27.7 percent, is below the national average of 28.8 percent for women-owned businesses, or WOBs, the Census Bureau reported. The state is not among those listed in the top 10 with the highest percentage of WOBs, but it’s not among the states with the lowest percentage, either.

“I’m not surprised by that,” said Traci Miller, owner of Color 3 Embroidery in Warren. “I think more and more women are becoming more prominent in the area and known for owning their own businesses. I think we’ll be seeing more in the future as well.”

Linda Yost is also among local women business owners who believe the area will continue to see an increase in the number of women operating their own companies, firms and businesses.

Yost opened her store, Pets Are People Too! in November 2004. This past November she celebrated the business’ 10th anniversary with a grand re-opening at its new, larger location on North Street NW in Warren. Yost, who has an animal nutrition certification, said she opened her store to provide her own pets “the best foods available.”

“I wouldn’t change it. This is what I do and I love what I do. More and more women are seeing opportunities and pursuing them. If it’s something you want to do, you should at least try,” she said.

Diane Sauer of Diane Sauer Chevrolet in Warren said it’s not “so much an anomaly any more” to see women business owners, specifically car dealers.

“A lot of small business start-ups we see are women. For many of them, it’s a way they can begin to get back into the work setting after putting their jobs or careers on hold to raise their families,” she said. “I know the number of women car dealers has been increasing.”

Sauer took ownership of the dealership in 1994 after working there 18 years. She said in the past, and still today, there have been times when customers are surprised to learn she not only owns the dealership, but also works there.

Locally, women-owned businesses, run the gambit, with many owners drawing from their own interests, skills and background. There are cooks, bakers, dance teachers, photographers, candymakers and store owners.

Lynne Villers, who owns Courthouse Grille on Courthouse Square downtown Warren, said although women business owners have become more common, there are still times when people want to see the “man in charge.”

“Some people assume my husband is the boss when he’s here helping out. But he tells them ‘she’s the boss.’ He lets them know,” Villers said.

Villers’ business is not only owned by a woman, but it’s also staffed by them. A former teacher with an accounting background, Villers acquired her eatery from the previous owner in November 2014 after “helping him out” there.

“I was teaching at ITT in Cleveland but was in a car accident and couldn’t make the trip back and forth any more. So, here I am. I love it. I love having my own business. I’ve always enjoyed cooking and feeding people and having them enjoy what I make. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “I believe this is what I’m suppose to do. This is where I am and where I should be.”

About a year ago, Roxy Vaughn put her experience working in criminal justice into her own business, Transparency LLC, an international employment screening firm in downtown Warren.

The company offers background checks, drug testing and BCI / FBI electronic fingerprinting. She and her business partner, Kim Hoerig, are looking to expand. “I saw a need and I always wanted my own business. I took something I know and went from there,” Vaughn said. “I wouldn’t change it. It’s challenging and it’s not always easy. I’m a working mom and my husband works full time. This is what I do now. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”

Vaughn said that based on her experience, she believes the idea of a woman owning her own business is more accepted than in the past.

“There are a lot of women in this area in business for themselves. It’s not for everyone, but if a woman wants to try to start her own business, she should. Every business is challenging, for women or men, but if you put your mind to it and it’s something you really want to do and you work hard at it, you’ll accomplish more than maybe you thought you could or ever would. As hard as it gets sometimes, and there are times it can be really hard, something will happen, some accomplishment and it will push me to keep going. When you look at what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished, that’s a great feeling.”

vshank@tribtoday.com