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Glendale Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
St. Louis, Missouri
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to help people succeed and reach levels that they never dreamed they were capable of achieving.”
“The most rewarding aspect of my job is the ability to help people succeed and reach levels that they never dreamed they were capable of achieving,” nominee Merlo said. “When recruiting employees, we traditionally hire people with little or no automotive business experience and try to develop them to adapt to our process. We look for good people who are motivated to make their lives better.”
A 1987 graduate of Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, Merlo earned a B.S. and B.S.I.M. from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, in 1992, where he studied accounting and industrial management, and was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He also earned an M.B.A. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, in 1998.
Merlo did not set out to be in the retail automotive business. After receiving his undergraduate degrees, he was working as a certified public accountant at Arthur Andersen in Chicago, Illinois, when his father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. “I decided to return to St. Louis in 1996 to purchase the dealership from my mother and begin my automotive career,” he said.
And he weathered many economic challenges since taking over the business. “As car dealers, we have been through some very tough times, and our stories are amazing,” Merlo said. “What we take for granted, others see as major accomplishments. So I have used those experiences to encourage others to overcome walls that they face.”
Merlo also takes great pride in working with his church to speak about ways to triumph over adversity. “My battles with stress, depression and anxiety have had a profound impact on my work and personal life,” he said. “I have shared my experiences to help others overcome their obstacles and learn how to stay strong during seemingly insurmountable challenges.”
He is also focused on guiding young adults to make positive life choices. “As parents, we are always going to give advice to our kids and other children that are part of their lives,” Merlo said. “When you see them turn into leaders in society, the joy is overwhelming.” That is why he said he is most proud of receiving Father of the Year honors from Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis in 2016 for his involvement and service. "To be recognized as a key contributor to the success of young people is beyond words,” he added.
Merlo is committed to giving back to his community in ways that make the most impact. “I have tried to devote my time and resources to causes that may not get the huge attention on a national basis,” he said. “Every year, I try to find one family that is struggling and donate a new vehicle to get them back on their feet. I know it is just one family, but it is one family that can now get to work and start rebuilding.”
In addition, Merlo has worked on the planning committee to renovate a local firehouse and contributes vehicles to police canine patrols. He is also on the board of the St. Louis Auto Dealers Association Scholarship/Loan Program, which helps students attending Ranken Technical College in St. Louis.
Merlo was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Doug Smith, president and CEO of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Amy, have four children.