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Woman Treads in All-Male Territory

Car dealerships are among the vestiges of an all-male world -- the last remaining Boy's Club -- at least in some people's imaginations. They're just not businesses, or locations usually associated with women. So please pardon Nicole Kish if she tells you you're utterly and completely wrong.

Kish, 36, has worked at Volvo of Westport for some 15 years and feels absolutely at home there.

"They're like family," she says of her colleagues and clients.

She begins work as Volvo of Westport's service advisor at around 7:15 each morning, when customers start dropping off their cars at the dealership's repair shop. She is completely comfortable with and knowledgeable about all things vehicular. Nicole, who lives in Shelton with her husband and three year-old son Dylan, can't see herself doing anything else. "I grew up around car stuff," she says. "Both my father and my stepfather were really into cars, and I went to muscle car shows all the time."

Muscle car shows? They're a far cry from the family-friendly Swedish vehicles erstwhile yuppies snap up for safety and reliability -- and cup holders. "I know," she said, laughing. "But Volvos are great cars and I love all cars, so it works for me."

Nicole began her career at the dealership as a cashier. Four years later she was promoted to warranty administrator, a position she held for two years. But she was hearing the siren call of more interface with clients. "The service advisor guy and I basically switched jobs," she said. "And it worked out really well." In that position, which she holds now, Nicole serves as the point person between her clients and the technicians, trafficking information between them.

And she's extremely good at her job. Hoskins Smith, who's brought her aging Volvo to Volvo of Westport for the better part of a decade for servicing, bubbles with praise for Nicole: "She's so smart and she knows so much about cars that it's mind-boggling. Nicole has educated me over the years about the value of maintenance in terms of the health, dependability and longevity of a car. Her expertise is remarkable."

But Nicole seems unimpressed with her own prowess. For her, working at the Volvo dealership is a meaningful way to spend her day. "I love working here," she says. "The people are nice and the days always go by fast." It seems the Boy's Club isn't all-boys, after all.

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