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The Future of Cars is Female: These Auto Experts Are Pumping the Breaks on Stereotypes    

Written By: Ian Hays
Photographed By: Roberto Cerini

For eight years, OC Autos has made a name for itself, proving that their 75 years of combined auto experience is the real deal. But, OC Autos is not just about being a trusted business or making a dollar; it’s about actively engaging with the community to improve lives. And none of this would be possible without Bushra Salman. A property manager by trade, she never had much interest in auto sales and servicing like her husband. But a move to Houston, TX changed that.

“In 2003, we moved to Houston and that’s where we fell in love with diesel trucks. Everybody has one out there. People use them not just for work, but exciting things like camping and fishing. It made me realize it really brings families together,” she said.

In 2010, Bushra and her husband moved back to California. She wanted to bring this new-found love to the Golden Coast. Bushra lead with a steady hand. With the assistance of her majority female management staff, they studied the car sales trade and diesel trucks. But while there was not much competition business wise, being female-run and doing things differently ruffled some feathers.

“I wanted to take things one step further and make some real social change in the local community. I had a lot of guys come and give me ‘pointers’ for this industry or new salespersons trying to push how others did things. I made it a point not to be like other dealers; stuck with it since day one. In the beginning, it was very difficult to be taken seriously. I realized this was going to be different and more challenging than anything I’d ever done,” she explained.

Bushra and her team dealt with sharks, doubters and misogyny. But as word spread of their expertise in diesel trucks, so did the appreciation for the fresh direction their business was taking. It’s not about getting the biggest profit margin. Bushra and her team understand people will save for decades to buy one of these trucks. She has stated she doesn’t need nor want to make an exorbitant profit off a sale. Mechanics and salespeople know from day one that upselling is forbidden. For servicing and sales, they print out breakdowns of all charges, happily explaining the profit margin. They have become the second and final opinion shop.

Transparency is the key component of OC Autos’ culture. The work of Bushra and her team looks beyond what it means to be a diesel-truck dealership. They were the first in California for chemical testing the diesel trucks and verifying theirs are ‘Titan Certified.’ It’s like a key blood test for the vehicle, the ultimate background check. The trend of doing these tests at other California dealers came about because of OC Autos. Trends are outliers until they show they work. And while their competitors are happy to capitalize on this success, OC Autos is already two curves ahead in the road.

For OC Autos, everything is truly run like a family. For out-of-towners coming to pick up their diesel truck, OC Autos will show them around town, take them to lunch—a genuine welcome. OC Autos goes beyond the numbers and earnestly engages the human element of their business. It’s allowed them to not just grow as a dealership and shop, but positively impact those around them.

As for the future, Bushra has some big plans.

Bushra adds that “We are looking to heavily invest in a new, user-friendly app. We also are looking into custom trucks. The diesel truck community likes to make their truck ‘their truck’. And beyond that, going global. I am looking to prove the stereotype wrong. The purpose has to be beyond just sales. It’s revolutionary. We’re very proud of being unique.”

Lunch is Served: If you drive along Harbor Boulevard on any given Saturday, chances are you’ve seen, smelled, or heard the barbecues that tend to pop up around lunch outside the OC Autos office.

Relief on Wheels: With ROW, individuals or families in need can share their story about how a car would be able to benefit them and then the OC Autos team vote for the candidates.

Native Knowledge: OC Autos mechanics host free weekend classes on a variety of topics relating to basic auto upkeep and knowledge for when you take the car in for servicing.

OC Autos
1415 N Harbor Blvd
Santa Ana, CA 92703
714.265.2600