Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s became a part of Pam Oakes’ hard-wiring – and in 1995, part of the name of her business. After college at the University of Michigan, Oakes worked for a few years as a reporter in Michigan and in Southwest Florida. “But the further I went on my career path, the more I longed to be underneath the hood of a car, as bizarre as that may sound to someone else,” Oakes said. So she picked up the tools of the trade used by her father, grandfather and great-grandfather – automotive technicians – and started Pam’s Motor City Tire and Auto Center in Fort Myers.
Before long, she had combined her talents and become an automotive media maven. She now can be heard on the radio in every state. Her auto manual, Car Care for the Clueless, has a companion, nationally syndicated radio segment that reaches 10 million people daily via 60 U.S. stations.
Oakes is a certified auto technician. She still turns wrenches in her 12-bay shop, where she manages a staff of 11.
Oakes and her fiancé, Peter, own rescue dogs who often hang around the shop with their wrench-wielding “uncles,” she said. Pam is a part-time inventor as well, working on patenting several auto-related devices that make driving easier for seniors.
Oakes is community-focused, often speaking to groups about car care. Her shop holds sessions on some Saturdays for younger “up and coming drivers,” as she calls them, about what’s involved in maintaining a safe vehicle. She works with United Way to offer free repairs to residents in need and with Southwest Florida Works to help people get job training.