by Jen Pennington
At SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer’s Association show in Las Vegas, I caught up with welder, fabricator and TV personality Jessi Combs. Jessi is known for her roles on Overhaulin’, Xtreme 4×4, and guest appearances on the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters. She has a strong following and has made a name for herself not just as a celebrity but as a teacher as well.
While waiting to interview her at the Lincoln Electric booth at the show, a welder’s paradise of related tools and equipment, I watched as a line of men and boys formed to get her autograph. Guys couldn’t wait to get their picture taken with this strong, talented, and genuinely cheerful beauty who is a spokesperson for Lincoln Electric. At a show like SEMA where thousands of car, truck, and motorcycle enthusiasts go, there were probably only a handful of women role models who stand out. There amongst all this testosterone was a young teenage girl waiting in line to get her autograph. Jessi greeted her with a really big smile and a “Chicks Rule” line. The girl was really shy, got her autograph and walked away with a reserved exuberance as she showed it to her friends. You could tell she was secretly coveting it and who knows what that young lady might build someday or what potential sits deep inside.
Early on, Jessi’s own passion for racing and custom automotive design led to her graduating at the top of her class at WyoTech in Laramie, WY. But it is her deep commitment now to empowering women to get their hands dirty and learn about cars, and tools that makes her such a great role model.
As Jessi says,“…it’s knowing that you can rely on yourself and you can depend on yourself and it’s empowerment. And that’s all it is.”
So what’s next for this energetic woman? Jessi recently started a new non-profit with her good friend Sarah “Bogi” Lateiner. Sarah is another powerful woman who runs her own automotive shop in Phoenix, hiring mostly other women mechanics. Together the two are collaborating to help women get scholarships to attend tech schools. If that’s not enough, they’re working to promote keeping shop classes in the education system in high schools. I’d say yes, “Chicks do rule.”
Check out the video below to hear Jessi in her own words talk about women and self-sufficiency.
You can learn more about Jessi on her website.