Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011
The Road to Palm Springs
Bernie Moreno’s love affair with cars and the automobile industry started not long after he moved to the US from Columbia as a seven-year-old. When he was 12, he wrote a letter to Roger Smith, then Chairman of General Motors, detailing 10 things he’d do to make GM a better company. Smith was so impressed he responded with a three-page letter, which Bernie has kept to this day.
After graduating, Moreno joined the headquarters of GM subsidiary Saturn. After seven years, he was given the chance to become general manager of a large dealership group in Boston. By the end of his first year, he had turned the dealership into the most profitable of the group’s entire portfolio.
When Mercedes-Benz approached him about buying a struggling affiliated dealership in North Olmstead, Moreno turned it down at first. But when he visited the dealership, a bad experience with a salesman persuaded him that someone who brought the right focus on sales and service could turn things around.
His instincts were right. In the five months before he arrived, the dealership had sold 68 cars. Within three weeks, he’d sold 80 cars, a dramatic turnaround that continued through the bleak economy. Moreno has since branched out and now operates 13 profitable high-end auto dealerships.