In 2005 Bernie Moreno purchased a small, underperforming Mercedes-Benz dealership on the west side of Cleveland. In just one year, under Moreno’s leadership the re-born dealership earned a coveted “Best of the Best” award from Mercedes-Benz. And in less than ten years, Moreno would grow this business from a single dealership into an impressive collection of thirty-one.
The key to his success?
“I have always believed that car shopping and car service can be positive experiences for our customers—delightful even,” says Moreno. “This belief is shared by all our associates at all of our locations.”
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Moreno moved to the United States at age 5, becoming a U.S. citizen at age 18. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, he began his career in the automotive industry with the Saturn Corporation. Before long, Moreno ascended through the ranks to become Vice President for New England’s largest automotive dealer, where he was responsible for corporate training, online marketing, and launching new acquisitions.
On May 12, 2005, Bernie Moreno purchased the assets of Mercedes-Benz of North Olmsted from United Auto Group and opened the doors to his first dealership. Since that time, the dealership has grown to become the largest volume dealership in the Central U.S. What’s more, Mercedes-Benz of North Olmsted has been recognized by JD Power and Associates with their Certified Retailer Award and earned the coveted Mercedes-Benz “Best of the Best Award” for eight consecutive years.
“North Olmsted really set a precedent for us,” says Moreno. “In many ways, it was a symbol of great things to come.”
Less than two years later, Moreno began building what would become The Collection Auto Group through a series of acquisitions: Porsche, Spyker, AMG, Sprinter, Saab and Lotus. From 2010 to 2014, he added Acura, Aston Martin, Buick/GMC, Fisker, three Infiniti dealerships, Maserati, MV-1, two Nissan dealerships, Rolls Royce, Smart, Volkswagen, MINI, Kia and the company’s first out-of-state dealership: Mercedes-Benz of Fort Mitchell (Kentucky).
Expansion like this, in any industry, does not go unrecognized. In 2011 Moreno won the Midwest Region Entrepreneur of the Year Award from Ernst & Young, as well as the Time Magazine/Ally Financial Dealer of the Year Award for the Greater Northeast Ohio Region (one of only 50 dealers awarded annually). Later that same year, Moreno was also awarded the 2011 Northeast Ohio Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year. And in 2014, Sales and Marketing Executives of Cleveland name Moreno the Distinguished Business Executive of the Year.
Nowadays, as President of The Collection Auto Group, Moreno remains focused on providing exceptional experiences for both associates and customers. It’s a technique that seems to be working. For the past three years, The Collection Auto Group has been named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
“We always give back to our associates,” says Moreno. “And equally important, to the communities in which we work and play.”
As proof, Moreno serves on the boards of many educational and charitable organizations, including: Board Member and Executive Committee for Cuyahoga Community College Foundation (2006-present); Member, Young Presidents Organization (2009-present); Vice Chair of the Cleveland State University Board of Trustees (2011-present); Member, The Fifty Club of Cleveland (2011-present); Board Member for The Greater Cleveland Partnership (2012-present); Board Member, Ohio Business Roundtable (2012-present); and Board Member for The Cleveland Foundation (2014 – present).
When the workday is over, Moreno returns to his home in Westlake, Ohio, for his “most exceptional experience” of all—spending time with his wife and four children.