July 1, 2022

2021 Women in Auto Care Female Shop Owner of the Year

tara topel 

Name:  Tara Topel
Title: Owner, Topel’s Service Center
Years in the industry: 25
Favorite Apps:  Peloton, Audible, Snapchat, Alexa
Words to live by “Treat people how they would like to be treated.”

Using her talents to give back to those around her is what led Tara Topel, owner, Topel’s Service Center, into the auto care industry more than 25 years ago. With a degree in public relations from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, Topel’s aftermarket career began with a typewriter. “I married my husband and started typing out statements for his father’s business in 1995 on their family typewriter,” said Topel.

As the co-owner of Topel’s Service Center as well as a towing business in Lake Mills, Wis., with her husband, Dan, Topel’s current duties and responsibilities include accounting, marketing, human resources and service center operations. “My long-term goals include growing our business at our new facility to sales of $3 million dollars. I will continue to help our team achieve their goals both personally and professionally,” said Topel.

Whether it’s supporting her children’s dreams of attending theater, being involved in her local chamber of commerce and church, or mentoring other women in the auto care industry in her free time, you can find Topel leaving a positive impact on those around her. “I love… helping others when I can with the talents I’ve been given,” said Topel.

What do you feel are the rewards for being a part of the association?

I have gleaned more than I can [say] from the association. I have used the data and information to write our business plan to grow into our new facility being built; networking with not only successful shop owners, but people from throughout the entire industry helping me get a global perspective of many angles I had not considered before. Both our business and myself are more professional because of the standards that are implied and kept from the top down. This has resulted in relationships and networking that make us industry leaders.

In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the auto care industry today?

Lack of professionalism and how we are portrayed as a blue-collar industry, rather than a professional organization. I appreciate all the time and effort that all members are willing to give at every level of The Auto Care Association to increase awareness and professionalism. My late Coach, Bob Greenwood, worked with determination to build a foundation of this industry to be recognized and valued for the experts that we are. I believe it is up to each one of us to strive and challenge ourselves daily to level up and continue reaching out to those that need guidance and leadership.

This interview is brought to you by Women in Auto Care Community logo 

Women in Auto Care

The Women in Auto Care community is dedicated to it's mission of connecting, empowering and mentoring women within the auto care industry.

Women in Auto Care provides opportunities, education and career leadership to women in the auto care industry through conferences, networking, scholarships, education, data, awards and more. See what we are talking about  

About section background | Auto Care Association

Mike Chung

is director, market intelligence at Auto Care Association. With more than a dozen years of experience in market research, Chung provides the industry with timely information on key factors and trends influencing the health of the automotive aftermarket to help businesses throughout the supply chain make better business decisions. Chung has earned degrees in chemical engineering, environmental health, and business administration. He can be reached at

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