Issue 23pulse

A Riveting Local Business


By Noel Daniel

It was a normal day for Freedom Smog owner Christina Portillo when she got the amazing news.

Freedom Smog’s iconic decal, installed on May 2, 2016, features a large image of Rosie the Riveter, a WWII icon used for recruiting female workers for the munitions industry. The Rosie the Riveter design was perfect from the beginning—Portillo knew it’d be the best way to honor the families of America’s military. There is a paragraph of text on the sign about the women who stay behind in war, stating “this group of women hold the fort down back home so their man can do the job of protecting Lady Liberty.”

“Rosie the Riveter originally was the image of women who stepped up to do male dominated jobs during World War II,” said Portillo. “They contributed tremendously to our country during that time, they too have paid a great price for our freedom. That is the reason for adding the text to the decal. It provides clarity and context and the purpose was to honor all the Rosies of America.”

May 3, the day after the installation, a member of the considerably large Manteca Memorial Day commemoration saw the image. Within hours, Portillo received news that Mary Torres, the inspiration for Rosie the Riveter, wanted to visit the shop.

“I was thrilled,” Portillo confessed. “It’s an honor to meet her. She represents so much of our history.”


Most exciting was when Torres gifted Portillo with her symbolic scarf, essentially passing down the torch and telling the proud business owner that she was the “Rosie the Riveter of today.” But where does this exciting story begin? It begins with Freedom Smog—an opportunity that she was given by a friend of hers.

“She knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and supported that vision,” said Portillo. “I managed our Manteca location in 2012 and bought the business in 2014.”

And Portillo’s vision wasn’t just for a strong smog business. Not only did she want to make a positive experience out of something as dreaded as smog checks, but she wanted to use her business as a way to express her thankfulness for those who serve and served our country.

“Our shops’ lobbies are museums,” explained Portillo. “Honoring our military, veterans, and their families is what I get excited about. It all started with one flag and, since we offer free smog tests to our active duty and veterans, donations from our local heroes are displayed in our lobbies. Some of our memorabilia belong to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and I get to make sure their stories are not forgotten.”

In addition to Freedom Smog’s powerful message, they are committed to providing honest emissions test, respectfully treating everyone as partners, and “honor those men and women of the United States who protect our freedom.”

To Find Out More About Freedom Smog, visit their physical location at 830 Kansas Ave Modesto or  call 209-846-9259.

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