When most 12 year olds were still enamored with Barbie dolls and Teen Beat magazine, Heather Franklin preferred to tinker with tools.
She vividly recalls her beloved Go-Kart needed a small engine repair and no one had time to help fix it. So, Franklin says, “I picked up some tools and tried to fix it all myself.” She hasn’t put them down since!
Master Deputy Franklin pursued her love of small engines through high school automotive classes in Oak River, Minnesota (she was the only female in the class). Her career development route detoured with a stint as assistant manager of an OshKosh
B’Gosh children’s clothing store and a position as a manager of a Virginia Beach Jiffy Lube shop. Then opportunity knocked when management at a Norfolk Chevy dealership offered to send her to classes to become a certified auto mechanic. They would even pay for the test.
The 6 feet-tall self-proclaimed “redneck” says she loves working on trucks, especially big ones. Franklin admits she can work on almost any vehicle, but she doesn’t do transmissions. Brakes, belts, check engine lights-bring ’em on! Fancy, fully-loaded newer model vehicles present her with the greatest challenges, but a computerized diagnostics machine which she carts around in her truck helps troubleshoot most issues.
Franklin stayed at the dealership for about 18 months until a former NSO employee convinced her to become a deputy. She has no desire to return to working in the repair business full time because she insists, “I like being a deputy.” Her colleagues
have become the true benefactors of her automotive talents. “Word spread quickly-mostly by word of mouth,” says Franklin. She has worked on supervisors’ trucks and cars and doesn’t hesitate pulling off the road to help someone in need-“especially the elderly,” admits Franklin. Captain Pat Dunn takes his and his daughter’s vehicles to Franklin at least 2-3 times a year. “Can’t beat the price,” says Dunn. Plus, “she’s good, too; real good,” he adds.
Franklin joined the NSO five years ago, eventually landing in the NSO Maintenance Division where she’s quite content. While her NSO days focus on door repairs and routine jail maintenance problems, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to help a colleague whose car is not starting in the parking lot or needs an after hours tune up.
The in-demand mechanic is also learning the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Franklin’s 7-year-old son Nicholas is already showing interest in working on cars. “He’s my flashlight holder,” chuckles Franklin. Like mother, like son!