A 1983 graduate of George C. Wallace State Community College (now Wallace Community College Selma) in Selma, Alabama, Ouellette was hired as a sales consultant for Long-Lewis, a Ford dealer in Bessemer, Alabama, at the age of 19.
“I spent two years in the sales position before being promoted to finance manager at age 21,” he said. “I advanced through the dealership and was named general sales manager, the youngest manager in the near 100-year history of Long-Lewis.”
The owner of Long-Lewis, Vaughn Burrell, saw potential in Ouellette and became his mentor and trusted advisor. “From my first day in the automotive business, I had immense respect for Vaughn Burrell,” he said. “He carried himself so professionally, he had strong Christian values and he was a philanthropist. He was what I wanted to become.”
After Ouellette put together a five-year plan for Burrell, Burrell sent him to the NADA Academy to learn dealer operations and in 1996, the two became partners in the store in Muscle Shoals. Ouellette bought out Burrell in five years to become the sole owner of Long-Lewis Ford of the Shoals and today, he has expanded the Long-Lewis brand by acquiring stores in Alabama and Mississippi, selling Ford, Honda, Lincoln, Mitsubishi and Volkswagen vehicles.
“By far, the most significant and emotional acquisition took place in July of 2020 when Mr. Burrell and his family agreed to sell me the Long-Lewis Ford Lincoln dealership where my career began,” he said.
Today, Ouellette honors Burrell by encouraging and sponsoring several of his employees to attend the NADA Academy, including his son, who is also part of the family enterprise. “I want Long-Lewis to always be family-owned and family-operated,” he said. “When I say ‘family,’ I am referring to the Long-Lewis family. There is a lot of family history in that name!”
On an industry level, Ouellette has served on dealer councils and advisory boards for the Ford Motor Company in his region. “I worked diligently with the company’s senior leadership for several years on key issues facing all dealers nationally,” he said. “And I have supported the political activities of my national and state auto dealer associations.”
The retail automotive business has made it possible for Ouellette and his family to form the Long-Lewis Foundation, his most rewarding achievement, which provides aid to the community and supports evangelistic causes. “Since my family established the foundation in 2013, it has given millions of dollars to individuals in need, other nonprofits and has sponsored mission trips to places all around the world,” he said.
The foundation provides funds for Long-Lewis employees to buy Christmas gifts for children through The Salvation Army Angel Tree program. In addition, the foundation supplies the food that employees assemble into Thanksgiving gift baskets for delivery to elderly neighbors and families who need a boost during the holidays. “To date, our team has shopped for and delivered baskets to more than 10,000 families in our communities,” Ouellette said. “In addition, we recognize and reward those employees who volunteer their time to local nonprofits.”
He is currently on the boards of the Long-Lewis Foundation; Northwest Alabama Fellowship of Christian Athletes; The Salvation Army of the Shoals; and the Rescue Me Project (youth mentoring program), as well as having served on the board of trustees for the University of North Alabama in Florence from 2015 to 2020.
Ouellette was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Thomas R. Dart, president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Alabama. He and his wife, Leslie, have three children.