Findlay Kia technician survives adversity

From 2007 until December of 2009, Sandra Giffen was busy in the Insulators Union Local 135 as a fire stopper making great money during a booming economy.

When the native of Layton, Utah, was laid off after the completion of her latest job at Aria at CityCenter, she began a miserable seven-month run of unemployment. Making matters worse, she also discovered before being laid off that she had thyroid cancer.

Fascinated by power tools, Giffen decided to begin classes in automotive technology working toward an associate degree at the College of Southern Nevada. The owner of a 2007 Kia, she reported to Findlay Kia at 5325 W. Sahara Ave. for maintenance on her car last May and the rest is history.

"While I was at the dealership, I asked someone if there were any openings in the service department," Giffen explained. "I wanted to get my foot in the door and, besides, I could get a discount on the work on my car.

"Luckily, the dealership gave me the chance of a lifetime, especially considering that no one was hiring and also that I am a female."

Almost a veteran although she has only been working on cars for a short period of time, Giffen has been busy providing warranty work, oil changes, replacing fuel filters and even machining rotors and replacing brakes.

"Starting in August, I'm going back to school for steering and suspension work," she explained. "After I finish the class, I will be able to do alignment work here. After that, I want to return to school again and learn about engines, transmissions and rear ends. I want to complete the full circle and make a real career out of this."

Giffen is quick to point out that she never would have received the opportunity had it not been for dealership Service Manager Scott Crockett and Service Director Bob Williams, who were both gracious to give her a chance.

"Not just anyone would give me or any woman a chance in this industry," she said. "I am forever grateful to both of them along with everyone in the Findlay Automotive Group."

If Giffen seems overly enthusiastic , there's good reason since the thyroid cancer was removed through surgery and radiation and the job is going great.

"Things were really a pain in the neck, literally," Giffen said . "But I lived through it all and I'm thankful for everything I have now."

Findlay Kia is headed by General Manager Byron Klemaske. The dealership is part of Findlay Automotive Group founded in 1961 by the late Pete Findlay, whose son, Cliff, now spearheads new- and used-automobile dealerships in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Idaho.

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