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January 12. 2014 10:09PM

Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Grappone Automotive Group owner not afraid to go her own way


 

Before she even opened her mouth, something told me Amanda Grappone Osmer isn't your average car salesman. I think it was probably her banjo.

I was lucky enough to hear the 40-year-old owner of the Grappone Automotive Group play before she spoke at the Women & Money Forum at Southern New Hampshire University last Thursday.

Osmer said she is one of the fewer than 10 percent of females nationally working in sales or service in the car dealership world, and it has helped her change the way Grappone runs its business.

"As a female, you can get away with a lot of things," she said. For example, she can write an email to her more than 300 team members and sign it "Love, Amanda," without it being "creepy or weird."

Osmer was one of many exceptional women pursuing various business goals at the forum hosted by the Center for Women's Business Advancement. The organization based at SNHU provides future and current women entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and support to advance their business goals.

All kinds of women in business were represented. Kit Reno was there to learn how to grow her new business, Mosaic, which makes organic artisanal oatmeal. Doreen Austin, commercial lending manager at Northeast Credit Union (and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen look-a-like), was there to network and learn more about marketing strategies.

The forum, in its second year, offered dozens of workshops designed to recognize the unique abilities and needs of women in business. I thought I knew a thing or two about social media marketing until attending the "Social Media for Sales" session with Pat Spirou. The professor of marketing/advertising/social media at SNHU and owner of PAS Consultants taught me I have a lot of work to do in that area, like figure out this whole Pinterest thing.

Grappone's Osmer had a lot to teach the crowd from her experiences as the first female owner of the family business started by her great-grandparents. Like not being afraid to do things differently. The Canterbury resident said as a younger person she never wanted to make a career at Grappone, and even moved to California after college. "And I ended up selling cars because no one else would hire me."

So she came home and started to learn the business. Of her four siblings, she is the only one who ultimately embraced the company. And it was that sales job in California, she said, that made her understand how distasteful it could be to negotiate car prices and the difficulty of living life on an unstable, commission-based paycheck. That's why Team Grappone no longer negotiates car prices or pays the sales team on a commission basis.

Osmer, a mother of three, believes that Grappone's "product specialists" will be better at their jobs if they are happy with their jobs. Under her leadership, Grappone has added a meditation room, paid volunteer time, Tuesday night jam sessions, and summertime Boat-to-Work days, when team members can park at New Hampshire Technical Institute and paddle down the river to Team Grappone.

"Because it's more fun than driving," Osmer said.

To learn more about The Center for Women's Business Advancement, visit www.cwbanh.com.

Science in the kitchen

I loved the new Science in the Kitchen exhibit at SEE Science Center. It was recently donated by Great NH Restaurants — owners of Cactus Jack's, T-Bones and The Copper Door — and designed by the company's corporate chef, Nicole Barreira. No surprise, the kid-sized kitchen is all pink, just like Barreira's signature chef's jacket.

Barreira is known for her dedication to healthy food and getting young children involved in meal preparation. The exhibit encourages children to become familiar with the ins and outs of a real kitchen, and how much fun it is to be involved in the planning and preparation of meals. They can even dress up in hats and aprons while learning the science behind eating healthy. The exhibit will be open for the year.

NH365.org Event of the Week

There is a wonderful opportunity for parents and kids to practice yoga together at Yoga Balance at 135 Hooksett Road this Saturday. The Family Yoga Workshop will combine physical exercise, partner poses, kid-approved yoga poses, breath work, and relaxation, mixed in with a healthy dose of family togetherness. There will be two sessions. The 1:30 p.m. slot is for children 5 to 8 years old with a parent. The 4 p.m. slot is for those 9 to 13 years old with a parent. The cost is $20 for each parent/child couple.

Visit www.NH365.org for more fun family events in and around the Queen City.

If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, write to Scene@UnionLeader.com.


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