“Leadership is not about being the best; leadership is about making everyone else better. The most rewarding aspect of my career has been the ability to create opportunities for people to grow.”
A third-generation dealer, Cuene graduated from Abbot Pennings High School in De Pere, Wisconsin, in 1983 and earned a BA in marketing management from Northwood University in Midland, Michigan, in 1987.
Before joining his family’s business, which was founded as Broadway Garage in 1916 by his grandfather, Herb, and later managed by his father and uncle, Duke and Jim, Cuene worked at two dealerships in Florida.
“My dad and uncle wanted me to gain industry experience outside of our company,” he said. “My two years in Florida ended up being invaluable.” Cuene returned to Green Bay in 1990 and today, owns the dealership with his brother Michael.
“Our family truly laid the foundation for our businesses success, ensuring that Michael and I had the training and experience we needed to thrive,” he said. Cuene also attended the NADA Academy and participates in NADA 20 Groups to further share and expand his knowledge base.
“Drive, passion and accountability were some of the traits I learned from early managers and role models but integrity and honesty were two that came from my father and uncle,” he said. “And I am working hard to pass down those values to my own boys, Duke and Pablo.”
Cuene has actively participated in the Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, having served as a board member for five years. He is a strong advocate for his industry and galvanized local dealers in his area to increase the pool of candidates for much-needed technician jobs.
“The automotive program at Green Bay East High School was faltering,” he said. “I met with the school system and we put together a plan to reinvigorate the program and its partnership with the local technical college. I reached out to local auto dealers and business leaders for the funding of what is now City Stadium Automotive, the school’s innovate automotive technician lab.” This collaborative effort has resulted in a renewed interest in auto service careers among young people at the school.
Cuene brings that same enthusiasm to local causes he supports. For nearly 20 years, he has worked with E-Hub/Urban Hope Entrepreneur Center in Green Bay, founded by late Green Bay Packer Reggie White and his wife, Sara, to empower budding entrepreneurs.
“I have been an instructor, board member, financial supporter and president, helping students and their businesses on their journey to self-sufficiency,” he said. “As a volunteer for the group, we’ve supported more than 2,650 graduates and helped facilitate more than 900 business startups in Wisconsin.”
He is also a contributor to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), donating annually to this group. “ARCW is at the forefront of HIV prevention, care and treatment and is dedicated to providing quality medical services,” he said. “I felt that this cause was marginalized in the past, and I am committed to bringing attention and support to this center in our local community.”
Cuene is proud that Broadway Automotive received the 2014 Family Business First Award of Northeast Wisconsin from First Business Bank. “This recognition of the accomplishments and contributions of our family business to Wisconsin for more than a century is very meaningful,” he said.
Other groups he supports include HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital (Green Bay); H.O.O.A.H. (provides compassionate support for veterans and servicemen and women); Center for Childhood Safety (group dedicated to eliminating childhood injury in Northeast Wisconsin); The Salvation Army; American Red Cross; Greater Green Bay Community Foundation; Muscular Dystrophy Association; Freedom House (homeless shelter in Green Bay); Wisconsin Humane Society; as well as local schools and many other nonprofits.
Cuene was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by William A. Sepic, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association. He and his partner, Jairo Rios, have two children.